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December 24, 2006

by Fabian

Jeff Karstens, RHP, 24
Previously Ranked: 17th prior to 2006, 17th prior to 2005
What Others Say: Pinstripes Plus 26th, Baseball America N/A, John Sickels N/R

Physical Ability: Jeff Karstens stands 6’3’’ and weighs in at about 175 pounds. He is a gangly right-handed hurler. Most Yankee fans should be familiar with him from his time with the big league club in 2006. For a refresher, he throws a fastball, curve, change, and slider. Karstens does not throw very hard, topping out at about 90, and his repertoire amounts to the definition of mediocrity. There’s no big breaking pitch or hard diving stuff here fellas.

What Happened in ’06: Jeff began the year with the Columbus Clippers, but was clobbered at AAA. Coaches/team scouts said it wasn’t due to a lack of stuff, but rather due to a lack of confidence. Having always been a mild fan of Karstens, I believed this explanation and was cautiously optimistic about his chance to bounce back. After working with wunderkind pitching coach, Dave Eiland, Karstens destroyed the EL and along with Phil Hughes and Tyler Clippard made summer trips to Trenton disastrous for Eastern League batters. Promoted back to AAA, Karstens continued to pitch well and ended his year as a semi-regular member of the big league rotation.

What Lies Ahead: Karstens will begin 2007 back at AAA. Exactly what his role will be remains to be seen because there are a ton of arms at that level. However, if/when anything happens to a big league long man or starter, given his 2006 performance, Karstens may be the first to get the call. I don’t expect him to do as well as he did at the level during his second trial there, but definitely better than he did in his first trial. He may also have some value in teaching Tyler Clippard, as he is somewhat of a poor man’s version of Clippard.

Grade: Jeff Karstens, for all intents and purposes, is what he was in his major league trial. Not the ERA, but the stuff. He’s not going to throw anything jaw-dropping and there are going to be occasions when you wonder how he isn’t getting creamed and some of those times he will then proceed to get creamed. So, don’t expect him to be posting lots of sub 4 ERAs in his career, but do expect him to be a decent long man or rotation stop gap. Despite lacking the sexy potential futures of some of the guys behind and ahead of him on this list, Karstens places this high because he has been to the big leagues and been effective, small sample size warnings and all, and he is a safe bet to return and be mediocre. Players like him eliminate the need for your team to trade for the Shawn Chacon’s of the world, which may help them keep the Ramon Ramirez’. At the same time, he is a guy you don’t hesitate to trade if a deal comes along. C+

Brett Gardner #16