It looks like today, the Chicago Cubs are going to call up pitching prospect Chris Carpenter (not that Chris Carpenter) to take a spot in the bullpen. Presumably, someone like Casey Coleman will be optioned back to AAA Iowa to make room.
The move is unsurprising with respect to the depleted bullpen, but is wildly surprising with respect to Carpenter.
Considered a top 10 prospect in the system before the season, Carpenter has had a rough 2011. After failing to make the bullpen out of Spring Training, the 25-year-old Carpenter struggled at AAA before being demoted to AA, where he’s been just so-so. He was expected to compete for a bullpen spot in the second half, but that was back when he was a kid who was fresh off of dominating the Fall League with his 100 mph fastball. Having fallen on hard times, I don’t think too many were expecting to see him until 2013 – if at all.
As for what happened between the Fall and his early season struggles, it’s hard to say for sure. His velocity has been down, and he had terrible control at AAA Iowa – though he was still striking out over 9 per 9 innings. Perhaps the Cubs have seen him regain his form at AA and figure they might as well give him a look now.
Carpenter was a highly-touted 3rd rounder in the 2008 draft, and has been well-thought-of until this year.
It will be interesting to see him in action, but, God help me, if he is called up just to rot at the end of the bullpen, I will be one unhappy camper.