The Big 4?
By Riley Carel
When looking at the Mariners minor league affiliates, it is easy to see that the Jackson Generals are loaded with some of the organizations top prospects. It features some of our best hitting prospects with Nick Franklin and Francisco Martinez, both of whom have the potential to become major powerhouses in the Mariners organization for years to come. Their roster also includes the top three pitching prospects in Danny Hultzen, Taijuan Walker and James Paxton. These three pitchers have people arguing that this could be the best starting rotation in all the Minor leagues. Hultzen, Walker and Paxton are all arms expected to be in the majors sooner rather than later and are projected to be front end of the rotation starters.
With all of these soon to be superstars on the roster, it is easy to over look somebody who is a journey-man, somebody who does not have the eye popping potential that makes you stop and stare, a guy who is not featured in the Mariners top 20 prospects. But when push comes to shove, he is putting up numbers that will start getting the front office’s attention very soon. This man’s name is Andrew Carraway, a guy who is not looked at as a top prospect in our organization but with the way he has pitched so far this year that is all about to change.
Andrew Carraway is a 25 year-old starting pitcher for the Generals who has been been overlooked so far this year due to all the hype surrounding the aforementioned “big three.” Lets just be clear from the start, Carraway does not have the physical abilities or the “stuff” on the mound that Hultzen, Walker and Paxton posses, but what he does have is the ability to be a smart pitcher who knows his strengths and works very well with them. He throws in the low 90’s with his fastball, an above average curve, and a change that he has been developing and is coming along pretty nicely. Carraway lives off of his ability to locate his pitches and be very aggressive in the strike zone.
Carraway is repeating AA again this year after posting an average season last year in which he started 21 games with a 3.66 ERA. His whole career up to this point has been around just that, simply average. He has never done anything to blow people away but then again he has always been a solid starter who could be counted on to keep your team in games. That was all true until this year, where he has been off to an amazing start and is statistically out pitching all three of the superstar arms in that rotation. In 3 starts this year, Carraway has thrown 18 innings with a 2.0 ERA while striking out 13 and only walking 3 batters. He is striking out 6.50 batters per 9 innings while posting a 1.50 BB/9. He was nearly flawless in his first 2 starts pitching 13 innings while only giving up 2 hits and 1 earned run along the way. Carraway is going to have to keep putting up numbers like this in order to garner any attention away from Hultzen, Walker and Paxton, but so far he is doing a great job at making a name for himself.
These numbers can be very misleading simply because he has only started three games, but if he continues to put up these kinds of numbers it is only a matter of time before Carraway gets some recognition and we see the “big 3” turn into the “big 4.” Andrew is not going to be a pitcher that we’ll be able to pencil into the Mariners front end of the rotation in a couple years, but if he keeps pitching well and puts up solid numbers we might be looking at a back-end-of-the-rotation guy or maybe even a solid long relief pitcher in the Mariners future.