PEORIA, Ariz. -- There was nothing subtle about the way the Padres pursued Minor League free-agent pitcher Anthony Carter this offseason.
"Right from the get-go, I felt like they really wanted me here," Carter said.
So much so that the Padres signed the right-hander fairly early in the offseason on Nov. 18, reaching a deal that included an invitation to big league camp. There's more than a few people in the front office who feel Carter can push for a spot in the team's bullpen.
Carter, who turns 28 on April 4, impressed Padres' scouts last season pitching for the Red Sox's Triple-A affiliate in Pawtucket, R.I. He had a 3.47 ERA but had fewer hits (56) than innings (62 1/3) and also had 79 strikeouts.
"He was very-much high on our radar from the beginning of free agency," said Padres assistant general manager A.J. Hinch, who is charged with signing Minor League free agents. "We liked his fastball, how he used it, and his ability to miss bats with it above the barrel. He has enough weapons to get hitters out and really pitches off a high-velocity fastball. Given his stuff and maturity, we felt he was one of the best arms out there in Minor League free agency, even though he hasn't been tested in the big leagues yet. We are excited to see him in camp."
Carter was a starting pitcher for the first four years of his career in the White Sox system but discovered his velocity jumped a tick when he went into the bullpen, which can be common among converted starters.
"I like it," Carter said of his conversion to a reliever. "It was an opportunity to get out there two or three times in a series. And my velocity picked up pretty good. Before, I was 88-92 [mph] sitting right in there, to where I am now, throwing some mid-90s."