Upgrades are tough to come by this time of year as you head into the home stretch, but the Athletics just did many a fantasy owner a favor by promoting their top prospect Chris Carter to the bigs. Carter, a 6-5, 230 lb. slugger who was rated a five star prospect this offseason by Kevin Goldstein, will replace the injured Daric Barton at first base in the short term, and may end up seeing time in the outfield eventually—the Athletics just shifted him there a few days ago in the minors.
Carter was part of the massive package the Athletics got back for Dan Haren alongside other attractive prospects like Brett Anderson and Carlos Gonzalez. (Fast-forward to 2010 for a moment, and look at what the Diamondbacks got in return, then remember those three players were just part of the overall return for Haren). Carter has hit .262/.368/.531 with 27 homers in 424 at-bats for the Triple-A Sacramento River Cats. That may not seem like much, especially for a guy in the PCL, but his home park has dragged his line down. Carter's home line is .225/.329/451 with 10 homers in 204 at-bats—that sounds about right given the River Cats park is very difficult for right-handed power hitters to succeed in. On the road, Carter has a line of .295/.403/.605 with 17 homers in 224 at-bats. Scale that back a bit thanks to the offensive environment of the PCL, but the answer to the kind of hitter he is lies in between those two sets of data.
Hitting in Oakland is going to be a lot like hitting in Sacramento, as both have played similar for right-handed power hitters—they favor pitchers a bit when it comes to doubles, but are dead zones for right-handed homers. Expect Carter to continue to be more of a force on the road than at home, though his home numbers shouldn't be a problem for those playing in head-to-head leagues, either—it's just something to be mindful of if you're in a league with daily changes and want to play the platoon game.
The punch out rate is high, as Carter has whiffed in 29 percent of his at-bats this year, and that's not something you can expect to drop significantly either. He struck out over 24 percent of the time between two levels in 2009, 31 percent of the time in 2007, and 29 percent of the time in 2006, so get used to seeing him miss. Given his power though, and the fact that he knows how to draw a walk (his on-base percentage has been around 90 to 100 points higher than his batting average every year since 2006) he'll have plenty of value, and he waits for a pitch that he can drive more often than not.
Carter is a serious prospect who may even have some keeper potential from the outset. He also may stick around for the rest of this year given how close it is to September and expanded rosters. He's owned in 0.2 percent of ESPN leagues and just 24 percent of CBS leagues, so he's there for the taking more often than not.