Position: Relief Pitcher
Opening Day Age: 26
Uniform Number: 33
What did he do to fall off the radar as a top prospect for the Cubs?: Nothing at the major league level, but he didn't put up world busting numbers in Iowa either.
In 2009, he was rated as the Cubs' #11 prospect by Scout.com and #15 by Minor League Ball. Arizona Phil had him ranked #10 at The Cub Reporter. This year, he doesn't make Phil's top 15 and I don't see him on any other lists either.
Last year, he went to AAA and his ERA jumped a run to 4.17 and he posted a WHIP of 1.405. But the injuries on the Cubs' major league staff and the lack of a pennant race to push the veterans back on the field got him a call-up and he appeared in 14 games out of the bullpen for the big club.
In that role, he posted a 1.40 ERA and a WHIP of .931. He allowed 2 runs in his first appearance, a five and a third inning outing in relief of Tom Gorzelanny getting shelled in Colorado. He gave up one more run the rest of the year including an 11 game, 12 inning scoreless streak to close out the season.
Not too bad. You can check out more analysis of Caridad's pitching here by Harry Pavlidis on Cubs f/x.com.
Was he ever on a team named for a hardy freshwater fish?: Yes.
Caridad played briefly with the Hiroshima Carp in Japan and was a teammate of Kosuke Fukudome in 2007. So there is still a chance that a free agent signed from the Hiroshima Carp will end up being useful for the Cubs. Probably not the one we had originally hoped.
Baseball-Reference.com's Most Similar Pitcher: None (too small a sample size)
Why We Might Like Him:
- It's hard not to like someone with a name like Esmailin Caridad.
- He looked pretty good out of the bullpen at the end of last year.
- His fastball is not over-powering and he pitches up in the zone a lot, so he may be giving up some homerun balls.
- We are going to want him to be a strikeout pitcher and he isn't one.
What the Cubs Blogosphere Thinks of Him:
- The Cub Reporter - (from last year) "Caridad is 25 years old and he's only 5'10, so there may not be much more there than what's there right now. But from what I've seen of him, he will be pitching in the big league within a year or so. He has a full array of pitches, with a solid fastball, curve, and change-up."
- Cubs f/x - "His stuff is not hard to figure out. Labeling his breaking ball is rather subjective. Caridad's bread-and-butter is 93-95 mph fastball. He also employs a sinker, thrown more to lefties, and the aforementioned slider. The slider is really the out pitch to lefties, but will be used early in counts against righties."
- Cubshub - "Commonly, someone with Esmailan’s size and throws as hard as he does with not an ideal delivery, has had injuries to their shoulder girdle at this point in their career or is a severe risk. Not Caridad though, and most scouts put that on being raised through the Japanese system. In Japan, more focus is placed on building arm strength, throwing more pitches, and setting up counts with their secondary rather than their fastball. While in the States, a big emphasis is placed on revamping youngster’s deliveries, fastball velocity, establishing the fastball and going for the strikeout rather than going deep into games, establishing secondary pitches, and locating pitches. Esmailin has what many scouts and analysts call a rubber arm, in fact he’s often more effective on shorter rest than long breaks. Caridad doesn’t concentrate on striking out the hitter but rather letting the hitter get himself out."