Carter Lewis Capps
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 5", Weight 220 lb.
- School Mount Olive College
- High School North Lenoir High School
- Debut August 3, 2012
Carter Capps made it to the majors in 2012.
Capps was 10-1 as a college junior and 14-1 with two saves and a 1.75 ERA as a senior. In 2010-2011, he set a NCAA Division II record by winning 24 straight decisions. He was named the ABCA Player of the Year for Division II in 2011 and would become the first player to win that award and make the majors since Mike Aviles (2003 winner). The previous pitcher to take home the award and play in the majors was Brett Tomko, who had won 16 years earlier. In the Cape Cod League in 2011, he went 4-1 with a 0.60 ERA out of the bullpen for the Harwich Mariners.
The Seattle Mariners took Capps in the 3rd round of the 2011 amateur draft. The pick was compensation for the failure of Seattle to sign Ryne Stanek the year before. He was the first 2011 Mariners draftee to make the majors, beating out top prospect Danny Hultzen. Capps was signed by scout Garrett Ball.
Carter made his pro debut with the 2010 Clinton Lumber Kings, going 1-1 with a 6.00 ERA and 21 K in 18 IP. He began 2011 in relief with the Jackson Generals, going 2-3 with 19 saves, a miniscule 1.26 ERA and 72 strikeouts to 12 walks in 50 innings. He was leading the Southern League in saves when he was promoted to the Tacoma Rainiers. He retired all four batters he faced for Tacoma in his only game there, then was called up to the majors along with Stephen Pryor after the club traded away Brandon League and Steve Delabar at the trading deadline.
In his major league debut on August 3, 2012, he did a poor job. Relieving Kevin Millwood in the 7th inning with a 4-1 deficit against the New York Yankees, the right-hander allowed a single to Russell Martin and a walk to Curtis Granderson. Derek Jeter bunted the runners over and Oliver Perez relieved. Both runners would score, leaving Capps with a 54.00 ERA for the day. He did better after that, though, making 18 appearances for the M's with an ERA of 3.96 in 25 innings. he struck out 28 batters, against only 11 walks and had no decisions. He then spent most of the 2013 season in Seattle, apart for 7 games with Tacoma during which he had a 1.64 ERA. Things were a bit rougher in the big leagues though, as his ERA in 53 outings was 5.49. He had a record of 3-3 and did not record a save, giving up 73 hits in 59 innings. However his K/W ratio of 66/23 was quite impressive and indicated he had some significant potential to improve. It would need to be with another team, however, as on December 11th, the Mariners traded him to the Miami Marlins in exchange for OF-1B Logan Morrison. He pitched 17 times for the Marlins in 2014, with no decisions and a 3.98 ERA in 20 1/3 innings. He also pitched 10 times in the minors with three different teams, including some rehabilitation assignments, with an ERA of 1.26 in 14 1/3 innings.
Early in the 2015 season, while pitching with the AAA New Orleans Zephyrs, he drew attention for his use of a bizarre pitching motion, which had him take a bounce off the pitcher's rubber before planting his left foot almost at the front edge of the mound and delivering the pitch. A couple of umpires considered that this was an illegal pitch and called it a ball (it would have been a balk with men on base). The Marlins sought clarification of the rules and Capps was told the pitch would be legal if he dragged his back foot and did not elevate it too much in the air. He adjusted the motion and returned to the majors where he was suddenly dominant, throwing close to 100 mph. He posted outstanding numbers in 30 games, with only 18 hits allowed in 31 innings, 7 walks and a whopping 58 strikeouts. He was 1-0, 1.16 but recorded no saves, as he was used as the set-up man for A.J. Ramos, recording 11 holds in 13 opportunities. However, just as many experts were expecting him to take over as the Marlins' closer and have a break-out season in 2016, he was felled by an arm injury in spring training and had to undergo Tommy John surgery, wiping out his season. In spite of not being available to play for a while, he was traded to the San Diego Padres on July 29th as part of a seven-player trade that also involved Andrew Cashner, Colin Rea and Jarred Cosart, among others.
Before the 2017 season, Major League Baseball adopted a rule clarification directly inspired by his unusual pitching motion. It states that a pitcher cannot take a second step towards home plate with either foot or otherwise reset his pivot foot during his delivery; a violation with men on base will be a balk, and without it will be an illegal pitch.
Sources include 2012 Mariners Media Guide
- Mike Petriello: "Game of thrown: Carter Capps is king? Hard-throwing Miami reliever might be MLB's most dominant pitcher", mlb.com, January 9, 2016.