Monday, July 31, 2017

Getting to Know Quad Cities RHP Carson LaRue

I was warned that Quad Cities RHP Carson LaRue was on the quiet side, but my take is that he just doesn't waste a lot of words. At least that was my experience when I spoke with him last weekend in the River Bandits dugout.

Carson LaRue - July 2017
Photo by Jayne Hansen

LaRue was drafted by the Astros in the 14th round in 2016 out of Cowley County Community College (KS) and reported to the Astros rookie league GCL club with a quick promotion to the Greeneville team. He was used sparingly, but effectively, in his first season as he compiled a 1.04 ERA and a 0.808 WHIP in four bullpen appearances (8.2 IP).

LaRue started his 2017 season at extended Spring Training, but soon joined the full season Low A Quad Cities team in mid-May, completely skipping short season Tri-City, and landing a spot in the River Bandits rotation where he has been a steady hand ever since. Despite the later start to his season, he has already collected one of the system's largest innings totals with 90.1 innings under his belt for the season and has done so very effectively with a 2.79 ERA, 0.985 WHIP and 26 walks to 82 strikeouts. It is little wonder that Quad Cities Manager Russ Steinhorn declared, "He's been fabulous for us," citing his consistency.

LaRue's pitch arsenal consists of a fastball that sits around 90-92 and occasionally ticks a bit higher, a changeup, slider and curveball. "Right now my fastball's probably working best for me. I'm figuring out my changeup and curveball right now," said LaRue. "I need to work on my curveball, add a little more velo to it and be able to hit my spots with it because right now, I just throw it and hope it gets there."

When pressed on the success he's been having this season, LaRue told me, "I'm just locating my pitches. Even when I miss my spots some times, I'm locating them well enough most of the time so it kind of helps me out when I miss my spot."

I also asked him how a scout might characterize him and got the following response, "He'd probably say that I locate my fastball really well and my slider's getting pretty good now and that I just need to continue to work on my changeup and my curveball." It struck me that, if he's this good while his changeup and curveball are still works in progress, how good can he be when he refines those pitches!?

The pitch he would love to add to his repertoire would be Quad Cities teammate Abdiel Saldana's changeup, calling it "absolutely unbelievable." And the Astros minor-leaguer he would least like to face would be former teammate Yordan Alvarez who is now on the Buies Creek squad. "That dude, when he was here, was absolutely crushing the ball. It seemed as though, no matter what the pitchers were throwing up there, he was hitting it," said LaRue of Alvarez.

I wasn't able to coax much more out of LaRue, other than to find out that teammate and roommate Dustin Hunt is the guy on the team that makes him laugh, that he'd probably be a game warden if he couldn't play baseball and that he loves to hunt deer and turkey in the offseason.

But that's OK. Talking a lot isn't the thing that is going to bring him success in baseball. If he continues to improve those off-speed pitches and provide the Astros with a consistent, dependable arm, he can let his pitching speak for him.

Thank you for your time, Carson, and best of luck as the season continues!

Other Recent Interviews:
Marcos Almonte and Abdiel Saldana

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