Dodgers Nation wrote about Gerardo Carrillo before Spring Training in our Top 5 Under The Radar Starting Pitching Prospects. Carrillo started to get some attention in July of 2018 when MLB Pipeline ranked him in their top 30 for the first time. He’s now become a steady presence on most prospect lists so I was happy when I heard he was going to be with the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes to start 2019. I had thought he might start the season with the Great Lakes Loons after only 9 starts there in 2018.
Gerardo Carrillo was born in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico in September of 1998. He was signed a couple months before his 18th birthday in 2016 but did not pitch for them until June of 2017. His weight was listed at just 154 pounds. He was limited to 48.1 innings and had an ERA of 2.79. In 2018 he threw 60 innings while giving up only 41 hits with an ERA of 1.50 across two levels.
Another scoreless start from Gerardo Carrillo? Yup.
The 19-year-old fanned seven over seven scoreless frames and hasn't allowed an earned run in three straight starts (19 innings) for @greatlakesloons.
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) August 26, 2018
One difference going into the 2019 season was that Carrillo no longer weighed 154 pounds:
The latest season has brought a mixed bag for Carrillo. While entering the season with just 108.1 innings pitched as a professional he was inserted the starting rotation for the Quakes. His starts were a mixed bag but he was getting in the innings and having periodic success. He went down with an injury on June 20 and came back on July 11th. His first three starts after the injury were limited to two innings then his next two he was limited to three. The limitations are just educated guesses based on the statistics on MiLB. In his last four starts he has increased his pitch count and has now had two excellent starts in a row.
In Carrillo’s start on August 18th he had his best start of the season so far.
Gerardo Carrillo is arguably spinning his best start of the year for @RCQuakes ?
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) August 18, 2019
I was able to watch his next start on the MiLB app called First Pitch as they played the Inland Empire 66ers. The first inning was rocky as Carrillo gave up four hits and two runs. During that tough inning Steve Wendt, the broadcaster had some nice things to say about Carrillo:
I just was told by an unnamed scout that Carrillo has big league stuff and in his estimation he’d just need a few years in the minors to refine it.
After the damage was done, Carrillo proceeded to strike out the next five batters. In his next six innings he only walked two and didn’t give up anything else. So what changed? From what i heard he relied on his fastball a lot in the first inning but after that really started to mix in his curveball, slider and changeup. With progressively excellent starts it does look like Carrillo has begun to turn the corner.
I asked the Quakes’ pitching coach Connor McGuiness about why Carrillo seems to be turning a corner:
…this is part of the development process. He’s starting to put it all together. Sometimes the development process can lead to immediate results, and other times, sacrifices have to be made on the results end in order to develop players to succeed at the big league level. It’s been very fun for all of us, Gerardo included, to see that his hard work is paying off.
What Is Next For Carrillo
It looks like Gerardo Carrillo is fully recovered from his injury. He’s also but enough distance between the injury and is able to go 6-7 innings per start. It looks like he’ll only have one start left in the regular season (probably August 29) but could make more in the California League Playoffs. Further possibilities in the off-season include the Arizona Fall League or the Arizona Instructional League. Another possibility could be that he stops pitching in the off-season. With 82 innings pitched the Dodgers might just want him to lay off of throwing for a while and gear up for 2020.
It is always encouraging to watch the Dodgers’ prospects make gains that are substantial. We’ve seen it all year with players like Josiah Gray, Leo Crawford and Edwin Uceta. Gerardo Carrillo was slowed by an injury but he is now fully recovered and making great progress. We don’t know what the future has in store for all these players but they are in an organization that has the development processes in place. Many other organizations are trying to catch up with the elite ones like the Dodgers. Keep your eye on Gerardo Carrillo and so many other prospects as they “grow up” in the Dodgers’ organization.