Urban: Carter the Up-and-Comer

September 29, 2010, 10:47 pm
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Sept. 29, 2010URBAN ARCHIVEA's PAGE A's VIDEOMychael Urban

Hitless in a six-game stint with the As in August,much-hyped prospect Chris Carter was recalled to Oakland in the middle of thismonth and looked like the same overmatched 23-year-old rookie in going hitlessin his first five games back.A fearsome slugger during his days in the minor leagues,Carter certainly looks the part of an impact power bat. Hes an imposing6-foot-5 and tips the scales as a taut 230 pounds, and to watch him takebatting practice it to watch a steady stream of baseballs effortlessly launchedover fences.He is, in the usually astute minds eyes of Oaklands talentevaluators, the right-handed, middle-of-the-order threat that the team hasntreally has since Matt Holliday.OK, bad example. Really bad. So lets go with Frank Thomas-- the 2006 version that led the As to the American League Championship Seriesand should have been named the AL MVP.It might be unfair to Carter to compare him to the Big Hurt,who surely will be a first-ballot Hall of Famer, but since when are sportsfair? Comparing up-and-comers to all-timers is what we do.And what a delicious coincidence that Carters big-leaguecoming-out party came last week against the White Sox, the team whose capThomas will be wearing on his plaque in Cooperstown. In a three-game seriesagainst visiting Chicago, in front of the As fans almost certainly getting atad anxious to see the kid bust out, Carter went 4-for-8 with his first homer. Better yet, a couple of the hits came off sliders. The wordon Carter among scouts is that sliders are his kryptonite, and that was clearlythe case during his August cameo. It wasnt so much that he was taking bad,off-balance swings at them; in fact, his hacks were very balanced and undercontrol. It appeared as though he simply wasnt recognizing or identifying thepitch as a slider. Now that hes had a little success against the pitch on thegames highest level, though, he at least knows that hes capable of handlingit, and that will help him down the road.More important is that he know exactly what his focus needsto be this winter, and something else that several scouts have said about him-- hes a hard-working, bright young man -- is true, he should be able to youknow, slide right into the middle of the order, as planned,next April.
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