Diamond In The Rough : Tyler Carpenter

Tyler Carpenter found a new role, and his career took off in a new direction. Now, it takes a new turn, as he is bound for Double-A for the first time as a Minor Leaguer in the Angels' system.

SAN BERNARDINO -- Bags are packed and Tyler Carpenter is boarding a plane for Little Rock, Arkansas to join former and new teammates with the Arkansas Travelers.

At the beginning of the season, no one would have thought Carpenter would be looking at Double-A until at least near the mid way point of the season, and especially, not as a starter.

Inland Empire 66ers manager, Chad Tracy, was ecstatic to give Carpenter the news he'd be moving upward in the system, especially with the perception that came when he arrived in San Bernardino out of Spring Training.

Carpenter was expected to be a long-reliever, cleaning up poor outings from the rotation - basically, an inning eater. Instead, Carpenter was moved to the rotation.

In his first start, five innings, no runs. Second start, six innings, no runs. The next three? Seven innings, eight innings, seven innings, one run in each. A night and day difference from the year prior.

In 2015, Carpenter saw his ERA hit a spiking point in the negative direction at 9.82 after his first 12 games in High-A. Something had to change, and it did, drastically in the right direction.

Matt Wise, then pitching coach with the 66ers, sat down with Carpenter to figure a game plan for success, and what he shared with the young reliever turned his career around in the proper direction.

"He really helped me mentally," said Carpenter. "Told me I had good stuff. Just don't over analyze it, keep it simple, and clean up your direction to the plate. It really took off for me."

In his final four appearances, one run came across the plate with Carpenter on the mound in nine innings. He retired 27 of 33 batters faced, including 13 of the final 14. It was a new start to his career.

That led to off-season preparation, where he cut calories from his diet and lost excess weight to become a better overall athlete and prime himself for Spring Training. In an interview with Kyle Glaser of the Press Enterprise, Carpenter declared he was in good health, mentally and physically, fully prepped for the season.

On Wednesday night, Carpenter and his coaches sat behind closed doors and opened the door with smiles and hugs and strong compliments of, "you earned it." Carpenter is now moving forward to an unexpected point, but the excitement isn't overwhelming him.

"It's exciting honestly. I'm trying not to think about it with the year the year going good like it has been, though. Just trying to keep focusing on one start to the next and staying consistent. Just feel blessed once you actually get that opportunity to go up."

The faces will stay familiar for Carpenter as he lands in Arkansas and walks into the clubhouse, including his roommates from the past season, Jordan Kipper and Alex Blackford, as well as fellow Georgia natives, Bo Way and Alan Busenitz.

"I know a few of them, and I've met the majority of them through Spring Training. They're all good guys and I'm excited to go up and play with them."

Notorious around the minor leagues, pitchers tend to golf on off-days. A perfect way to clear the mind in the Arkansas heat and humidity. Carpenter however, feels he's not even close to his teammates in that category.

"I know I'm not even in that category, I can't golf," Carpenter said with a chuckle. "I've heard Kipper is a pretty good golfer so I'll give him that one"

In a corresponding move, the Travelers will lose their Opening Day starter, Kyle McGowin, as he moves forward in the system as well to Triple-A Salt Lake.

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