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March 23, 2005

by Fabian

SG's Season Simulations

Jeff Karstens, 22, RHP

I had no clue about Jeff Karstens from a scouting or statistical point of view at the outset of the ’04 season. Even after the first month or so of play I still did not care for him. In fact, it was not until Jose Valdez’s fluky beginning began to come apart that I decided to pay attention to Karstens and came away mildly impressed.

Karstens’ greatest asset, both statistically and based on what the scouts say, is that he has terrific control. He had a 2.0 BB/9 rate with Tampa last year and scouts speak of his ability to place his fastball. In addition to his 88-92 MPH fastball, Karstens’ arsenal includes a curveball, a change up, and a slider. None of these pitches is anything to write home about as Karstens success is mainly due to his ability to place his fastball and the rest of his repertoire when needed.

Despite a respectable K rate of 7.5 K/9 in ’04, Karstens still gave up 9.8 H/9. The high hit rate was a product of his lacking a true out pitch amongst his secondary offerings. In addition, Karstens also gave up 0.7 HR/9, which while not excessive, is not very good either considering it is the FSL and it is the Tampa ballpark. Once again, his lacking in the “stuff” department can be blamed, especially on those occasions where he doesn’t get the ball down.

If nothing else, Karstens was the most consistent pitcher amongst those that spent the entire year with Tampa. His ’04 performance has earned him a promotion to AA where it is said that pitchers of his ilk that can make it are separated from those who won’t. At the moment, I’m cautiously optimistic about Karstens chance to succeed. If he can pass the test he could be a potential middle to back of the rotation guy.

Overall, I think of Karstens as being a guy similar to Brad Halsey. A pitching prospect who could be a solid contributor if called upon, but certainly not someone to build around. In other words, trade bait if he gets off to a hot start, especially considering the team will likely be needing a 2B or CF by midseason.

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