POULSBO One day after striking out the side against the Fort Wayne Wizards and picking up a win for the Lansing Lugnuts, Jeff Carlsen, a former star pitcher at North Kitsap High School and the University of Washington, was released by the Chicago Cubs.
If it seems odd for an organization to release a pitcher who had an earned run average under two last year; a pitcher who had been a draft pick the year before after a record-setting career for the Huskies; a pitcher who, the night before, had whiffed a trio of Wizards — well, it seems odd to Jeff Carlsen, too.
“They didn’t think my arm would come around fast enough,” Carlsen said. “I didn’t agree, but my opinion didn’t matter in the decision.”
Carlsen had been slowed by a shoulder injury in college, which he was rehabbing even while he was drafted in the 22nd round of the amateur draft by the Cubs last June.
The injury has limited Carlsen’s velocity (he can throw in the low to mid-80s now), but seemingly not his effectiveness. Last year, while playing for the A-ball level Boise Hawks, Carlsen had thrown 40 innings and posted a miniscule earned run average: 1.5.
He was surprised and irritated to be released by the Cubs.
He said, “They told me it didn’t have anything to do with how I was throwing, but I wasn’t throwing hard enough at the time. They didn’t think I’d have success further up I went because I wasn’t throwing hard. And that’s why I’m home now.”
Carlsen is in Poulsbo now — lifting weights, throwing, and spending time with his family — but hopes his stay is a short one.
He hopes to attend a professional baseball tryout camp in June; if nothing comes of that, he’ll join an independent league or a California summer league.
He will have an impressive resumé to present. Carlsen is UW’s all-time leader in starts, and second in wins (with 24). In high school, he was a three-time baseball letterman, and was three-time all-league.
He was drafted by Major League baseball three times, once by Pittsburgh, once by Oakland, and once by Chicago. He didn’t sign with a major-league team until Chicago drafted him after his senior year.
Carlsen is patient, but he wishes the Cubs had given him the opportunity to fail, or succeed, at the higher levels of the organization before they made their decision.
He hopes to join his second major league organization, then show the Cubs — and the rest of baseball — what he can do at the higher levels.
“I’m working to make my arm stronger,” said Carlsen, who lifts weights five days a week at Poulsbo Athletic Club, “so I can go back and make them eat their words.”