In his first assignment as a professional, Carpenter hit an anemic .189/.278/.225 over 111 at bats in the New York-Penn League. During spring training 2007, he broke his hand and would miss three months of development. When healthy, Carpenter returned to the New York-Penn League, where he hit .221 with one home run and eight RBIs in 38 games.
After playing 20 games in A-ball behind the plate for the Quad Cities and Palm Beach this season, the Cardinals approached the 23-year-old about a career change. Like Jason Motte before, the organization moved him, along with fellow backstop Casey Mulligan, to the pitcher's mound.
Carpenter has posted a 1.09 ERA with three saves in nine games since being moved to the mound. The former Mountaineer collected nine strikeouts compared to six walks.
Now comes the word that Carpenter is on the move again, this time to pitch for the Johnson City Cardinals of the Appalachian League.
The newly-converted pitcher was gracious enough to take the time to answer some questions for this Birdhouse exclusive. Carpenter talks about life as a pitcher, life in West Virginia, and what he likes to do in the offseason.
Dustin Mattison: First off, what is life like as a pitcher?
David Carpenter: Life as a pitcher is completely different from catching. As a pitcher, you have so much down time that you don't know what to do with yourself. After coming from the hardest working position on the field, it's been a hard thing to get used to.
DM: When did the Cardinals first approach you about making the change?
DC: The first time I was really approached about pitching was the night that I was told the conversion would be made.
DM: Did you see a change coming or was it a complete surprise?
DC: It really caught me by surprise. Things seemed to be heading in the right direction this year as far as hitting and catching. It was very disappointing.
DM: Jason Motte underwent the same change of position and is now enjoying a great deal of success at Triple-A. Have you been able to talk to him about the transition?
DC: I was actually with Motte the year that he made the conversion. He was one of my pitchers in State College. It was a topic of discussion in the bullpen between he and I a few times. I was lucky to have him with me my first year because he was always there to answer my questions about certain situations that could happen during a game, and who better to ask than one of better catchers that had been in the system?
DM: What has been the toughest part of the transition to this point?
DC: The down time has been the one of the toughest things I believe, and having to start over at the lower levels again.
DM: Can you tell the fans about your pitching repertoire?
DC: My pitches consist of a two and four-seam fastball, a curve, and a changeup.
DM: Having been around, you have to be the leader of the GCL team. What is that like?
DC: I don't know about being the "leader of the GCL team", but if the guys ask for advice on certain things, I'm there to help them along. I understand the struggles that they are going through right now and I just try to help whenever one of them asks.
DM: Tell me about draft day 2006.
DC: Draft day in 2006 was a very rewarding day. I had a good feeling that I was going to be drafted, I just didn't know where or by whom. I didn't sit around the computer or by the phone, I knew that would make me too anxious. My Dad and Mom pushed me out of the house so I went with a friend to play Putt-Putt golf.
DM: What team did you root for growing up?
DC: I was a really big Pirate fan growing up because they were the closest team to home. I loved going to watch Andy Van Slyke and Bobby Bonilla play; they were my two favorites.
DM: What was it like playing baseball at West Virginia, a football school?
DC: I really enjoyed my time at WVU. I was blessed to get the chance to play in front of friends and family there for three years. The friends that I met from playing there will always be close to me. We didn't get the same amount of fan support as the football team did, but then again it's difficult to pack 60,000 people into a 1,500 capacity stadium. It is better known as a football/basketball school but the other athletic programs there do very well and I'm sure they will continue to do so.
DM: I have a friend who went to WVU, what is so special about it?
DC: WVU and West Virginians in general are a honest and proud group of people. It's hard to explain if you havent been there, but the people from there are very humble, caring, and hardworking - the type that would give you the shirt off their back if you needed it, so to speak. Since we don't have a professional sports team in the state, everyone there bleeds blue and gold - unless you're from Huntington - but that's another story for another time.
DC: I was out in Arizona for the bowl game and was with the guys on the team when they announced Stew got the job. The guys responded very well to his type of coaching and it showed in the game. I think it was a respectable decision and am excited for the season to start.
As for Coach Rod, I was really disappointed on how he parted ways with the university and the state. I feel he could have gone about it in a more professional manner. The worst part was he left a lot of promises unfilled; that's what put a sour taste in many mouths.
DM: Are there any teammates that you hang out with when you are not playing baseball? How do you guys like to spend your free time?
DC: As a catcher, you develop a good relationship with everyone you have played with, but I'm really close with three of the guys I was drafted with, Brad Furnish, P.J. Walters, and Mark Hamilton. We go out to eat with each other, go watch movies, and are addicted to playing Halo 3. It's always the source of arguments and friendly trashtalking. We normally talk to each other at least once a week in the off-season just to make sure the other is doing ok.
DM: As you know, there are thousands of Cardinals fans that have a keen interest in the team's minor league system. What would you like them to know about you that they may not already know?
DC: I'm just a hard worker waiting for his opportunity to move up the ladder to St. Louis. I enjoy being with my family and friends as much as possible. I also enjoy working on my Dad's Camaros with him in the offseason.
Dustin Mattison can be reached via email at email@example.com.
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