From BR Bullpen
Francisco Daniel Caraballo Lugo
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 2", Weight 195 lb.
- High School UE Negra Ipolita High School
Francisco Caraballo reached AA in the US before going to Japan.
Caraballo signed with the Houston Astros in 2001. He made his pro debut with the 2002 Venoco club, hitting .324. He led the Venezuelan Summer League with 70 hits and was second with 7 homers (behind Wladimir Balentien) and 42 RBI (one behind Jonel Pacheco). He made the VSL All-Star outfield.
In 2003, Francisco came stateside with the Martinsville Astros. He hit .286/.327/.461 and was third in the Appalachian League with 18 doubles, trailing Robinzon Diaz by two and Saúl Torres by one. The next year, Caraballo put up a .275/.335/.444 line for the Tri-City ValleyCats. In his first season in a full-year minor league, he hit .279/.339/.513 with 23 homers and 119 whiffs for the Lexington Legends. He was two homers behind team leader Hunter Pence. Promoted to the Salem Avalanche late in the year, he hit .244/.280/.422 in 14 games.
The Venezuelan flyhawk banged out 40 doubles for the 2006 Avalanche but whiffed 125 times. His batting line at year's end was .238/.303/.439. He also fielded .991 in the outfield with 10 assists. He tied Brooks Conrad and Neil Sellers for the Astros farmhand lead in two-baggers. He led the Carolina League with 58 extra-base hits, tied Sellers for the most doubles and was second in strikeouts.
Caraballo concluded his Houston career in 2007 with the Corpus Christi Hooks, hitting .256/.311/.431 with 27 doubles and 13 home runs. Out of Organized Baseball, he signed with the independent Worcester Tornadoes for 2008 and hit .313/.376/.594 with 23 homers in 92 games. He led the Canadian-American Association in dingers and was second to Chris Colabello in RBI. He was named to the All-Star outfield.
Having solved the US independent leagues, he went to the Japanese independent leagues in 2009. In 2010, he was hitting .364 with 15 homers and 46 RBI in 37 games for the Gunma Diamond Pegasus of the Baseball Challenge League. That earned the attention of the Orix Buffaloes, who signed him for 5 million yen on July 9. He became the first player from a Japanese indie league to make the jump to Nippon Pro Baseball in-season and the first player from the Baseball Challenge League to homer in NPB. He debuted with Orix on July 19 and homered off Hiroki Yamamura that day. In 36 games for the Buffaloes, he hit .257/.328/.478.