Get to Know Giants’ Prospect Daniel Carbonell


In recent years around Major League Baseball, Cuban players have taken the game by storm. Jose Abreu, Aroldis Chapman, and Yoenis Cespedes are just a small portion of the players from the island nation who have come to the United States to become big leaguers. The San Francisco Giants hope they have found their own future Cuban superstar in outfielder Daniel Carbonell.

On June 16th, 2014, the 23 year-old Carbonell signed a four-year contract with the Giants, more than eight months after he defected from his home nation with his friend, Orlando Perez. On July 28th, he made his minor league debut for the Arizona Giants in the Rookie League.

Carbonell is tall and lanky, standing 6’3” and weighing in at 196 pounds. He throws right-handed and was a switch-hitter in Cuba, but he has taken up hitting strictly right-handed during his time in the States. Those are the measurables, but the tools are what everyone wants to know about.

A five-tool player is one who can hit for power, hit for average, play good defense, throw well, and run well. Some people throughout the game have called Carbonell a potential five-tool player.

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His speed is clearly his best asset. He is known for his blazing wheels and has been clocked going from home plate to first base in four seconds flat from the right-handed batter’s box. For reference, Ichiro Suzuki ran home to first in 3.6 seconds from the left side, and he basically got a running start out of the box.

On defense, Carbonell’s speed gives him excellent range, and he can play all three outfield positions, although center field is his primary home. His arm has been rated as above average, but he is known for a quick release, much like Gregor Blanco.

His offense was his biggest question mark during his tryouts for major league scouts. Many thought that Carbonell’s offense was lacking in comparison to his other tools. But his numbers in Cuba, as well as the numbers he put up in his first taste in the minors, showed that he has great offensive potential.

In Cuba, he played parts of four seasons with the Camagüey Ranchers in Cuban Serie Nacional, which is basically Cuba’s version of Major League Baseball. In 190 career games, he hit .287 with nine home runs, 28 doubles, 70 RBI’s and 119 runs scored. His final season with Camagüey was his most successful, as he hit .298 with a .369 OBP and .449 slugging percentage. There isn’t much power yet, but he has very good line-drive, gap-to-gap power.

Carbonell struck out in 14 percent of his 223 plate appearances during that final season. The average Major League player struck out around 18 percent of the time, so his contact rate is already at a better than average rate.

Carbonell’s short stint with the Giants’ low-level minor league teams was very impressive. He played 10 games with Arizona, where he hit .314 with a homer, four RBI’s, three doubles, four stolen bases and an impressive .854 OPS.

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He was then promoted to the San Jose Giants of Class A-Advanced ball, where his numbers were even better in 21 games. Carbonell hit .344 with three home runs, three doubles, three triples, 12 RBI’s, 17 runs scored, seven steals, and a robust .928 OPS.

On August 19th, Carbonell enjoyed his best game with San Jose, as he picked up four hits, including two long home runs, and three RBI’s.

The Giants want Carbonell to develop, as they handpicked him to play for the Scottsdale Scorpions in the Arizona Fall League in order to give him as many at-bats as possible. In the AFL, Carbonell will be facing players from High A-ball, AA-ball, and maybe even some AAA players.

That level of talent has proven to be Carbonell’s biggest challenge so far, as he has not lit up the league like he did in Rookie and Class A-Advanced ball. In his first 11 games, he has hit only .205 with one home run and five RBI’s.

The Giants think highly of the young man, as he was the first Cuban defector they had signed since Osvaldo Fernandez in 1996. He was also immediately placed on the 40-man roster, making him eligible to be placed on the active 25-man roster at any time.

If the Giants are unable to make a deal to sign a left-fielder this offseason, don’t be surprised if the Giants hurry Carbonell’s progression and place him on the big league roster as the fourth outfielder. The Giants don’t want to rush him, but they will do it, if necessary.

Carbonell didn’t sign his contract with the type of fanfare that came with Abreu or Chapman’s signings. He’s not as Major League-ready as Abreu was when he hit .317 with 36 home runs in his rookie season. But he has the tools to become a fine major league player in due time.