He’s often been slotted as a back-up, so he’s not a household name or a prospect who even registers on many New York Met fans’ radar screens. Yet, the more you know about him, the more you might think the Mets might have something special in catcher, Xorge Carrillo.
Carrillo split time behind the plate at Arizona State in 2010 and 2011 with Austin Barnes. Barnes, considered top shelf, was drafted by the Marlins in 2011 in the 9th round. The Mets selected Carrillo five rounds later, the fourth major league team to draft the backstop throughout his baseball career.
Last summer, Carrillo played the support role again, this time in Double-A ball spelling Binghamton Met starting catcher Blake Forsythe. Forsythe won Rawlings Gold Glove Award as the top defensive catcher in the minor leagues, selected among qualifying players in ten different full-season minor leagues. You can certainly understand why Carrillo played second fiddle.
Yet, quietly, unassumingly, Xorge Carrillo is compiling an intriguing baseball resume. When he was drafted by the Mets most baseball analysts tabbed Carrillo as the standard ‘defensive first’ catching prospect. Scouts applauded Carrillo’s glove work behind the plate, noted his improving defensive footwork and rated his throwing arm as better than average.
It was Carrillo’s impressive work behind the dish that first drew my attention this summer in Binghamton. I loved to watch Carrillo work a game behind the plate. His set-up, the ability to stay low and work the inside and outside of the plate, his focus were always intriguing.
No one had much to say about Carrillo’s assets in the batter’s box. Carrillo has a short swing and an almost ‘see the ball – hit the ball’ batting style with little lower body torque launching his swing. A contact hitter, Carrillo flashes little power in the batter’s box.
Finding a rhythm at the plate in professional baseball did not come easily for Carrillo. The catching prospect hit only .217 in short season ball at Brooklyn after joining the Met organization followed by a .154 average in an injury shortened season at Savannah. Carrillo chatted about that in an MMN interview with David Conde. “Playing in Brooklyn was a humbling but amazing experience. It was the first time in my career I struggled offensively, and it was a challenge, but I enjoyed it and learned a lot from it.”
Carrillo must have been a good student. The direction of his hitting statistics veered on an upward path this summer in Binghamton. After getting off to a slow start as a B-Met, Carrillo batted .344 in July and .400 in August to finish the year batting .296 in 108 at-bats. To date, in 81 winter league at-bats playing for Aguilas de Mexicali in the Mexican League, Carrillo has mirrored that average.
A right handed hitter, Carrillo hit higher against right handed pitching (.341/.154) than he did against lefties this summer in Binghamton. That pattern has continued in the Mexican League where the young catcher is batting .304 against righties and .280 versus left-handers.
In his interview with Conde, Carrillo indicated he valued consistency and was continually working to become more consistent in every facet of his game. The catching prospect has a history of consistently playing an important role on championship teams throughout his baseball career. His McClintock High School team from Tempe Arizona won a state championship in 2007. Carrillo played on two Arizona Junior College Championship teams at Central Arizona College with his 2008 squad finishing third in the NJCAA World Series.
After a forearm injury derailed Carrillo’s junior season at Division I, Arizona State in 2010, he helped his team to the NCAA College Baseball World Series. Carrillo who hit .336 with a .409 on-base-percentage in his career at Arizona State, thrived in the championship pressure in the World Series hitting .438 with a .471 OBP and a .688 SLG.
Although he only started one of Binghamton’s three playoff games last summer, the elimination game, once again Carrillo seemed impervious to pressure going 2-for-3 with a base-on-balls.
A baseball organization can never have enough catchers. With the Mets looking to their youth movement to fill the major league roster’s catching slots; d’Arnaud, Centeno, Plawecki and Forsythe are the names we hear bantered around. As he strives for consistent outputs in his own quiet way, look for Xorge Carrillo to join that conversation.
(Photo Credit: Kelly Madden)