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Strikeout Kings Hyatt and Carreno Keep Succeeding in Double-A


From a statistical perspective, Phillies prospect Austin Hyatt and Blue Jays prospect Joel Carreno were two of the most impressive pitchers in the minors last season. Carreno struck out 173 batters in 137 2/3 High-A innings, while Hyatt K’d 156 in 124 1/3 frames at the same level before whiffing 25 in 22 Double-A frames.

Both pitchers are fairly old, though, as Hyatt spent much of 2010 as a 24-year-old, while Carreno was 23 for the season. Between their advanced ages, small-ish statures, and lack of premium velocity (they both throw in the 87-93 mph range), neither was considered a top prospect entering 2011 in spite of the numbers. Both were pegged as future middle relievers by many.

But Double-A tends to separate the men from the boys, and tame the finesse pitchers who aren’t up to snuff. Hyatt and Carreno haven’t batted an eye.

Hyatt has a 98/31 K/BB in 90 1/3 innings, while Carreno has a 105/44 mark in 83 2/3 frames. So clearly, both low-minors strikeout kings haven’t lost the ability to miss bats in the upper minors, a huge positive sign for their feasibility as good MLB starting pitchers.

That’s not to say they haven’t run up against their issues. Carreno’s walk total is high, proving that he isn’t getting as many people to chase his devastating slider. And Hyatt’s already given up 14 homers on the season, learning that he can’t afford to leave his mediocre fastball or plus changeup up in the zone.

Carreno, though, is really picking up steam as a prospect. He allowed just eight hits (!) in 31 2/3 May innings, and he’s followed that up with a 41/14 K/BB in 28 1/3 frames in June. He’s allowed nine homers on the season, but eight of them came in April.

Carreno certainly looks like he’s on track to become a solid-if-erratic MLB starting pitcher, like a right-handed Jonathan Sanchez of sorts. Hyatt’s homer issues raise some red flags, but his continued ability to miss bats also has to raise the optimism about his ability to at least take the ball every fifth day with some success–although Philadelphia isn’t the best park for his skills.

Overall, though, it’s nice to see that both Carreno and Hyatt are proving that their gaudy low-minors stats aren’t simply the result of them taking advantage of younger, greener batters.