Carrasco content with Indians' plans

Carrasco content with Indians' plans

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Carlos Carrasco can hear the whispers and has a pretty good idea of what is being said.

The right-handed pitcher can sense the scrutiny but says it doesn't bother him.

When a top pitching prospect like Carrasco comes into town as part of the deal that sends an ace like Cliff Lee out of town, there are certain expectations -- fair or unfair -- from the hometown followers. But Carrasco says he's not giving in to the pressure, he's embracing it.

"That's something very big for me," Carrasco, 22, said. "I don't think that I'm the greatest and I know I can get better, but when you are traded for a pitcher like Cliff Lee, a Cy Young winner, it makes you feel good. It makes you proud and it's an honor. I just have to demonstrate to the fans that I can work hard, too."

Carrasco's future is with the big league club but for now, he's concentrating on the present and being the best pitcher he can be. Maybe he starts the season with Cleveland or maybe he starts in the Minor Leagues. And maybe, when he says he's fine with whatever level he starts the season, he means it.

Carrasco has a fastball that hovers in the low-to-mid 90-mph range, but like many pitchers his age, he is working on refining his secondary pitches and cutting back on the tendency to overthrow.

Last season, he went 11-10 with a 4.64 ERA in 157 innings in Triple-A for the Phillies and Indians. Later, he went 2-2 with a 5.95 ERA in six games/four starts for the Indians after being called up on Sept. 1. Carrasco gave up 22 hits, struck out 14 and walked six batters in 19 2/3 innings during that span.

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"What I remember the most from last year is working on the little problems that I had," he said. "I worked hard but I know I can get better. Every year I want to get better."

On Saturday, Carrasco struggled in his Cactus League debut, giving up three runs on six hits in three innings in a 5-0 loss to the Rangers. He struck out one batter.

"He had a tough time keeping the ball down in the zone and that was the problem when he came up last year, too," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "But you know? We love Carlos. He's got great stuff. He's only 22-years old. That's a senior in college. We love the kid and we are going to keep throwing him out there. He's part of our future."

The present Cleveland rotation consists of Jake Westbrook, Fausto Carmona and Justin Masterson. David Huff, Aaron Laffey and Jeremy Sowers are in the middle of the competition for the final two spots. Carrasco, who has spent most of Spring Training throwing side sessions and pitching in simulated games, is also in the mix.

"I see this as a great opportunity in my life," Carrasco said. "The Phillies are a good organization and they treated me the right way and it has been the same here. I am getting a chance to pitch and show what I can do, but this is a business. They will make the final decision."

Carrasco has already come a long way.

Last season, the Indians received Carrasco along with infielder Jason Donald, catcher Lou Marson and right-handed pitcher Jason Knapp from Philadelphia for Lee and Ben Francisco. Lee was later traded to the Mariners.

Knapp had surgery last year and is scheduled to start a throwing program soon. Donald could end up at Triple-A. Marson, who is competing with Wyatt Toregas, appears to be the only player from the trade on track to start the season in the big leagues.

"I'll be ready to do whatever they want me to do," Carrasco said. "I'm comfortable here. I don't have to worry about being traded and I don't have to think about this or that. I can just pitch. That's all I can do."

Jesse Sanchez is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.