Hector Carrasco Pacheco
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 2", Weight 175 lb.
In his career, Héctor Carrasco played for 7 major league teams and was also part of 7 other major league organizations. He was the property of two expansion teams - the Florida Marlins in 1993 and the Arizona Diamondbacks, in 1998 - but played for neither, then was part of the first edition of the Washington Nationals in 2005.
Carrasco has played 647 games in his 12 major league seasons - all but 10 of those in relief. He made his major league debut with the Cincinnati Reds in 1994, but it was already his fourth organization. He had originally been signed as an amateur free agent by the New York Mets in 1988, moved to the Houston Astros as a free agent in 1992, was sent to Florida along with Brian Griffiths in return for Tom Edens in one of the first trades ever made by the Marlins on the day of the 1992 expansion draft, then went to the Reds after the 1993 season as the player to be named later in the trade that had brough starter Chris Hammond to Florida prior to the season. He had a very good rookie season for the Reds in 1994, putting up an ERA of 2.24 with 6 saves in 45 games. In 1995, he fell to 2-7, 4.12 with 5 saves in 64 games, but the Reds made it to the postseason. Hector pitched one and a third inning in the 1995 NLCS when the Reds were swept by the Atlanta Braves. It would prove to be the only postseason appearance of his career. In 1996, he was 4-3, 3.75 in 56 games for Cincinnati and also started the 1997 season with the team. He was 1-2, 3.68 in 38 games on July 15th when the Reds sent him and Scott Service to the Kansas City Royals in return for Jon Nunnally and Chris Stynes.
Carrasco struggled with the Royals over the second half of the 1997 season, as shown by his record of 1-6 and a 5.45 ERA. The Royals left him unprotected in the 1997 expansion draft and he was picked by Arizona. However, in what was a very poor show of talent evaluation, the D-Backs placed him on waivers at the end of spring training, a strange decision for a team that would struggle in its inaugural season because of a lack of pitchers of major league quality. The Minnesota Twins claimed him, and he gave them a few solid seasons, beginning with 1998 when he was 4-2, 4.38 in 63 games; he also picked up his first save since his sophomore year. His 1999 season was shortened by an injury, but he continued to be a solid major league reliever, going 2-3, 4.96 in 39 games at the height of the high-scoring era. In 2000, he went 4-3, 4.25 in 61 games, then was sent to the Boston Red Sox in early September in return for Lew Ford. He was 1-1 with a 9.45 ERA for Boston over the final month, and his services were not retained.
Hector was signed by the Toronto Blue Jays early in 2001, but failed to make the team out of spring training, was released and ended up back with the Twins. He was 4-3, 4.64 in 56 games in his fourth season in the Twin Cities in 2001. He was signed by the Texas Rangers in 2002, but did not make the team and did not pitch professionally that year. In 2003, he signed with the Baltimore Orioles. He was very good for the AAA Ottawa Lynx to start the year (4-2, 2.22 with 4 saves in 23 games) and was called up on June 29th, spending the reainder of the season with the O's. He had what was a typical year for him - 4-6, 4.93 in 40 appearances out of the bullpen. He spent the 2004 season in Japan, pitching for the Osaka Kintetsu Buffaloes, bombing as a closer before being moved to middle relief. He was 8-8 with 5 saves and a 5.57 ERA in 53 games for Kintetsu.
Carrasco was back in the States in 2005, this time with the Washington Nationals in their inaugural season in the nation's capital. It was one of his best years, as his ERA was a minute 2.04 in 64 games, and his record 5-4 with 2 saves. That performance opened some doors for him and in 2006, he signed a two-year deal with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim that paid him close to $3 million per year - paydirt for a journeyman like him. He did well enough in the first year - 7-3, 3.41 in 56 games, but struggled mightily in 2007, with a record of 2-1, 6.57. He made his last appearance on a major league mound on June 30th, apparently felled by an arm injury.
Carrasco had a 1.29 ERA for the Pittsburgh Pirates in spring training in 2008 but was released before the season began, as the Bucs balked at paying him the top-notch salary his years of experience demanded. He inked a minor league deal with the Chicago Cubs in May, and was assigned to the Iowa Cubs of the Pacific Coast League. He pitched pretty well - 5-6, 3.86 in 42 games - but did not earn a call-up. In 2009, he went to play in the independent leagues; it didn't go well, as with three different teams, he was a combined 1-2, 8.53. He tried his luck in the Mexican League in 2010, but a 10.22 ERA in 6 games for the Diablos Rojos del Mexico did not cut it and he went back to the indy leagues. He had a decent 3.83 ERA in 41 games for the Shreveport-Bossier Captains, but that was in the relatively weak American Association; in the stronger Atlantic League, he was beat up to the tune of 1-4, 8.88 in 5 starts for the Newark Bears. He then pitched for the Dominican national team in the 2010 Pan American Games Qualifying Tournament.
Now 41 years old, he should by all means have hung up his cleats, but instead he went back to Mexico with the Petroleros de Minatitlan in 2011. Lo and behold, he found his groove back. In 20 relief appearance, his ERA was a sparkling 2.53 and he racked up 10 saves, showing there was still life in the old right arm! He did walk more batters than he struck out, so even that success was the result a bit of good luck.