Carson Starting To Gain Notice

The Sacramento River Cats have been consistent winners throughout the season despite the fact that their roster configuration has changed almost by the day. One constant for the entire season has been outfielder Matt Carson, who has quietly put together a solid campaign for the River Cats. Carson, who was named PCL Player of the Week on Monday, spoke to OaklandClubhouse over the weekend…

Despite leading the team in homeruns and RBIs, Sacramento River Cats' outfielder Matt Carson has managed to fly under the radar for much of the season. He finally got some much-deserved recognition this week when he was named Sacramento's Best Offensive and Best Defensive Player on Sunday and the Pacific Coast League's Player of the Week on Monday. Carson hit .455 with four homers during the week of August 24th to take home the league award.

On the season, he is batting .259 with a team-leading 23 homers and 71 RBIs. He also has 14 stolen bases and an 829 OPS. Carson has been particularly good the second half of the year. Since the All-Star break, he has hit .297 with a 959 OPS in 37 games.

Carson is in his first season with the A's organization. He was originally a fifth-round pick of the New York Yankees out of BYU in 2002. Up until this season, he had spent his entire career with New York. He didn't reach Triple-A until last year, when he put together a solid campaign with Triple-A Scranton-Wilkes Barre, batting .289 with 10 homers in 84 games. He signed with the A's as a minor league free agent during the off-season and was a non-roster invitee to the A's big league spring training camp, where he hit .364 in 22 at-bats.

Sacramento manager Tony DeFrancesco has been impressed with Carson this season. DeFrancesco called Carson his best defensive outfielder and noted that Carson has the rare ability to make consistent contact while also hitting for power.

"He's a great kid who goes out and plays hard and he has had an outstanding second half of the season," DeFrancesco said.

We caught-up with Carson before the River Cats' game on Saturday to ask him about his first season with the A's organization, his quest to help Sacramento win another title, his experience in big league camp and more…

OaklandClubhouse: How has your first year been in the Oakland A's organization after spending your entire career up to this point in the Yankees chain?

Matt Carson: It is a great group of guys and it's a good organization. There are some differences [between the organizations] just as far as traditions and that kind of thing. Over here, you show up and do what you need to do to play baseball. Over there, they have a few more traditions and rules that you've got to follow. But both places, it's a lot of fun to play baseball.

OC: You've been red-hot in August. Has there been anything that has changed for you during this month?

MC: Not particularly. It was more just swinging at good pitches. I was a little over-aggressive most of the year. I have kind of toned it back a little bit and am trying to hit better pitches.

OC: You made a strong impression on the A's big league coaching staff during spring training. It was obviously your first big league camp with Oakland. What was it like being around all of those guys?

MC: That was a great experience. I had a really good time up there. It was my first big league camp. I had had a couple of days playing just across the street from minor league camp [in Tampa] with the Yankees, but never from the beginning. It was a really good experience. A lot of great guys up there. The coaching staff, they seem like they run a pretty well organized program. Unfortunately, I didn't have the year [with Sacramento] that I wanted to. It would have been nice to get up there at one point or another, but I'm having a blast here also.

OC: You are leading the team in homeruns and RBIs, so that isn't too shabby of a season.

MC: [laughs]

OC: Have you always been a power hitter or is that a newer aspect of your game?

MC: In college, I felt like I was a power hitter. I kind of lost that a little bit my first few years of pro ball, and then I kind of got it back the past few years. It's just something that develops over time with learning to swing with the wood bat and getting used to the better pitching and being more selective. With the metal bat, you can get away with things a little bit. With the wood bat, you've got to do things right in order to be successful.

OC: You played winter ball last year and had a pretty good campaign. Did that help you coming into spring training?

MC: I think it did. Mostly with my confidence. I played down in the Dominican with the Aguilas, and from what I understand, the Dominican is the best winter league as far as baseball-wise. I felt like if I could do well down there, then I could do well a lot of different places. I was down there a short period of time and then I had the birth of my daughter, so I left the league for a little while. I then came back for the rest of the season. I'm looking to come back again this year, with the same team. Hopefully I can get that squared away.

OC: Any thoughts on the September call-up period at all, or are you mostly just focused on the River Cats and the playoffs?

MC: I've been with this team the whole year and I've had a lot of fun. It would be nice to see the whole thing through. We have the best record, I think, in all of minor league baseball. We haven't been playing great as of late, so I don't know where we stand now with that, but it would be nice to see this thing through.

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