As a young prospect, Gerardo Carrillo was considered a talented pitcher with lively movement, but one that needed to add muscle to his 150-pound frame in order to improve his velocity and increase his durability on the mound.
Over the last two seasons, adding that weight has been Carrillo’s main goal, and he has certainly accomplished that. In 2019, the 22-year-old right-hander came into Spring Training with nearly 15 pounds of added muscle. He continued his weight gain program in ‘20, adding another 10 pounds of muscle. He now weighs about 30 pounds heavier than his listed 154-pound mark, which has helped him stay healthy.
“The comments from others and the jokes definitely influenced the weight gain,” Carrillo said in Spanish during last week’s Rookie Development Program. “I’m not the highest-ranked prospect or the strongest, but at the time I was just really skinny. I definitely wasn’t in my best shape. I look different now and thankfully that has helped my velocity a lot. I think that weight gain really helped me develop over the last few years.”
With the added weight, Carrillo’s fastball now sits between 93-97 mph, with the ability to reach 100 when he needs it. The added velocity, paired with the heavy sink, has helped Carrillo elevate his prospect ranking. The right-hander is the No. 16 prospect in the Dodgers’ organization, according to MLB Pipeline, but the expectations keep growing as he was added to the 40-man roster earlier this offseason after an impressive showing at the alternate training site last season.
“It’s a really big step for me,” Carrillo said about being added to the 40-man roster. “Not everyone gets a chance to be on a 40-man roster, so I feel really happy about that. I still have a lot to accomplish, but that’s a big step and I’m really happy.”
It didn’t take long for Carrillo to have success after signing out of Mexico in ‘16. He went 5-2 with a 2.79 ERA in 14 appearances in his first professional experience in the Dominican Summer League the following year. In ‘18, he posted a 1.65 ERA in nine starts at Class A, the most impressive stretch of his young career.
In ‘19, however, Carrillo struggled for the first time. He went 5-9 with a 5.44 ERA and experienced command issues at Class A Advanced, which isn’t uncommon for young pitchers in the Minors. Carrillo struck out 86 batters in ‘19, but he walked a career-high 51 in 86 innings of work.
However, Carrillo said getting a chance to be part of the group at the alternate training site in 2020 was incredibly beneficial. He was able to pitch against good competition, and that helped him fine-tune his delivery and improve his overall command.
“I was just trying to take advantage of those opportunities,” Carrillo said. “That’s an opportunity that not many guys had a chance to have -- it was a really small group. I think I really took advantage of the 2020 season.”
Carrillo’s goal in ‘21 is to make the Opening Day roster, though it’s much more likely that he starts the season in the Minors in order to continue working on his command as he faces better competition. However, with his current skill set, there is a chance that the 22-year-old makes an appearance at Dodger Stadium this season.
Though he has been a starter for most of his career in the Minors, Carrillo also projects as a very good relief pitcher due to his increased velocity. It may be his best path to the Majors in ‘21, and he could give the Dodgers even more depth in the bullpen.
“I won’t lie, I would love to make the team right out of Spring Training,” Carrillo said. “But I just need to focus on giving my best and the rest is up to the bosses. I just want to make an impression during Spring Training and show up strong.”