In George We Trust
A(nother) blog about the most storied franchise in sports
Thursday, February 16, 2006
Prospect Profile: Jeff Karstens
Name: Jeffrey W. Karstens
Position: RHP
Vitals: 6'3", 175 lbs
Born: September 24, 1982
Hometown: San Diego, California
Drafted: 19th round (574th overall) in 2003 (Yankees 19th selection)

Background: Karstens grew up idolizing Pedro Martinez, and spent 2 years at Grossmont Junior College (El Cajon, California) before transferring to Texas Tech University. He won winning back-to-back conference championships with Grossmont before serving as Red Raiders' closer during his lone year with the program. He racked up 6 saves to go along with 8 wins in 63 IP at Tech. The Yankees converted Karstens into a starter at the outset of his pro career, and he's climbed the ladder steadily, having never repeated a level during his pro career.

Strengths: Karstens is a control artist; he's walked only 2.05 batters per 9 innings during his 3 year professional career. His best pitch is a sinking 2-seam fastball that comes in around 87-88 mph and is death to lefthanders. He's got pinpoint control of the pitch, and induces plenty of groundballs with it. He changes hitters sightlines with a low-90s 4-seam fastball and a good, 78-82 mph changeup. He does a good job of keeping the ball in the park (.57 career HRper9), and has outstanding mechanics to go along with an effortless delivery that allows the ball to get on hitters faster than expected.

Weaknesses: Karstens' offspeed stuff isn't up to par with his fastballs. He has a "get me over" curveball that comes in around 75 mph. His slider used to be a strikeout pitch, but it's regressed to the point that he was been forced to develop a changeup. Although his changeup is a solid pitch, it'll never be as effective as his slider once was. Even though he pitches fairly deep into games (6.24 IP per start during his pro career), his lanky build will prevent him from ever being an innings eater. Despite being a sinkerball pitcher, Karstens isn't a smooth fielder and sometimes it hurts him.

Comparison: As a sinkerballer, it's only natural to compare Karstens to best sinkerball pitcher to come through the Yankees system in some time. Here's their stats through age 23 (both pitched a Double-A Trenton with well over 100 IP under their belt at that age):

Chien-Ming Wang8.83.356.973.361.21

The numbers stack up reasonably well, and just like Wang at that point of his career, Karstens isn't viewed as a primary link in the organizational chain.

Outlook: Karstens seems destined to start 2006 at Triple-A Columbus after winning 12 games and posting a remarkable K/BB ratio of 3.5 (147/42) at Double-A. He's got the look and stuff of a solid back-of-rotation starter, where his impeccable command would be a welcome addition. With the Yankees crowded rotation, he could fit in as a Tanyon Sturtze type swingman, where his bullpen experience would be a plus. If he continues to improve and has a good year at Triple-A, it's possible he could earn a big league call-up come September. If not, he should see some major league action during the 2007 campaign.
Blogger James Varghese said...
You beat me to the punch - I commented on Karstens comp. to Wang over at BBanter and now I come over and voila, you've had the table up all day - I could have just referenced that...nice work

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