Who’s the player Boston obtained from the Washington Nationals for strikeout-prone Wily Mo Pena?
Chris Carter is the answer to this trivia question.
But there’s nothing trivial about what Carter’s doing for the Pawtucket Red Sox this season.
Through games of July 19, the 25-year-old outfielder was hitting .297 with 21 doubles, 20 home runs, 68 RBI and a .523 slugging percentage.
Carter, who initially was a 17th-round pick by Arizona in the 2004 draft, ranks second in the International League in RBI, fifth in home runs and 10th in slugging percentage—which isn’t too shabby.
Then again, Carter’s always been productive.
For example, last season he was hitting .324 with 18 homers and 84 RBI in 126 games with Tucson before he was traded to Boston.
“He’s swung the ball well all season,” said manager Ron Johnson. “He’s lived up to what we heard about him when he came over here last year.
“He gives you a professional at-bat each time up and has good knowledge of the strike zone. He trusts his hands and his ability enough to the point where he’s not afraid to hit with two strikes.”
In a sense, Carter evokes memories of former Boston shortstop Nomar Garciaparra in that he’s “perpetual motion” when he steps to the plate.
First, he emulates Garciaparra in that he loves to step away from the plate and “adjust” his batting gloves between pitches (which can drive pitchers crazy).
Then, he’s always waving his bat and never stops until he’s ready to attack a pitch.
And Carter even wears Garciaparra’s No. 5.
Carter also draws comparisons with former Boston third baseman Wade Boggs in that he invariably talks about hitting and studies it like Boggs.
“I work on it all the time,” said Carter, who was named to the International League Team for the Triple-A All-Star Game. “I have a lot of drills that I do… a lot of one-hand drills. I work on everything including staying back, especially with two strikes.
“I focus on staying on top of the plate, and not diving back, especially on a curve ball. Sometimes that curveball looks like it’s going to be more inside. I try to keep that front shoulder in.”
Given his results so far, Carter’s drills are paying off—big time.