David Carpenter was one of the biggest surprises for the Atlanta Braves during the 2013 season – well, except for Evan Gattis. Carpenter finished the season with a 4-1 record and a 1.78 ERA. In 65.2 innings pitched out of the bullpen, David had 74 strikeouts compared to just 20 walks and 45 hits.
Though the 28-year-old looked at times to be a veteran on the mound, Carpenter is kinda far from that.
While attending West Virginia University, Carpenter played the position of catcher. He was a very talented, strong armed catcher and was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 12th round of the 2006 amateur draft.
Though Carpenter had the skills to play the catcher position in the pros, a different spot on the roster would soon find its way into his shoes.
“The Cardinals had a pretty good catcher in their organization, I’m sure you’ve heard of him, Yadier Molina,” Carpenter said. “It was an opportunity to advance quicker, they (St. Louis Cardinals) have had success switching guys over, Jason Motte and a couple other guys. I guess I followed that same mold with having a strong arm, they wanted to see what would happen when you put that on the mound.”
So does that mean if the Cardinals didn’t have full trust in Molina, Carpenter could of continued to play catcher in the minors and never panned out to the pitcher he is today with the Braves???
Well sure, David may have had the skills for the catcher position but his bat was not there in the minors. 2006-2008 (years he played catcher in the minors) he was very unsuccessful at the plate, never batting above .220 for a season. In 304 at bats during that span, Carpenter only had 64 hits – accumulating a .210 batting average for those keeping score.
“I always knew that if the catching thing didn’t work out, I could try pitcher later on but when it got presented to me, it was kind of a thing ‘where this is the only way your going to do this or it’s not going to work’.”
He began pitching in 2008 appearing in 15 games and holding a .184 ERA with 17 strikeouts. In 2009, the strikeouts continued to pile on, 77k’s in 67.1 innings, but so did the runs. He gave up 34 runs, having a 4.28 ERA and a 5-3 record in single A ball. In 2010, he started the year off well from A+ Palm Beach but was traded in August to the Houston Astros for Pedro Feliz and cash.
Houston gave him the opportunity in 2011 to pitch for the big league team with 34 game appearances holding a .293 ERA and 29 strikeouts in 27.2 innings.
After pitching about a year with the Astros, they traded Carpenter to the Toronto Blue Jays in the summer of 2012 for a slew of players (6). Then on October 21, 2012 Carpenter was traded to the Boston Red Sox with Manager John Farrell for Mike Aviles.
The move for the Red Sox was strictly for Farrell as they let David go to waivers. And on November 30, 2012, the Atlanta Braves came and swept him off waivers.
After pitching an entire year with the Braves, David and Braves Nation are glad he’s here.
“The times I’ve been up before with Houston and Toronto were kind of stretch to see when I was going to be in,” Carpenter said. “And now having a set role, it’s made me feel comfortable having a routine and being able to repeat it. Especially when you have the group of guys we have out there to help each other. We’d always ask questions around the locker room ‘hey you’ve faced this guy, how did you get him out.?'”
Though having a terrific season, David had one instance in 2013 that he’d like to forget about. Game 4 of the NLDS and Juan Uribe hits a home run off him and go on to win the series.
“It’s something that has helped me stay focus because it left a bitter taste in a lot of people’s mouths, not only mine but the fans and the teammates – it was tough, it was tough to deal with. I’ve looked at it in a couple different perspectives, there has been a lot of home runs hit off good relievers before. It’s something that could of held me down and something that could of made me hang my head the rest of my career but I’m not going to let that happen. That’s not who I am as a person and that’s not how we do things here.”
Heading into 2014, Carpenter looks like a prized piece in our bullpen. One of which we’ll have back Venters, Kimrel, Walden and maybe EOF. Should be fun…
“This past year was special along the way, I got some pointers from Tim Hudson and John Smoltz would be in the locker room. When you have that group of guys to draw information from, you’re going to end up having a pretty good season. The success I had this season stems from the communication the team had and it was something special – looking forward to repeating it again next year.”
In a sense we can thank the team that we’ve struggled against for the past couple years for trying out a catcher on the mound. If Molina wasn’t a Cardinal, Carpenter could still be in St. Louis
“It was a tough transition and one that I didn’t want to make at first but looking back on the move, I’m definitely thankful for it now. The move helped me grow as a person and as a baseball player and I’m thankful.”