Carp Firing on All Cylinders

The first baseman's stock continues to rise as he makes yet another jump in the Mets' system. He has collected both team and individual awards during his tenure as he makes waves within the organization. The former California All-Star sat down with Inside Pitch Magazine on Saturday night after yet another snow out to start the season.

Consistency is the toughest challenge for young players. The ability to string together solid, valuable performances on a daily basis differentiate players of all levels. Mike Carp aims to rack up another productive season after his Sterling Award winning 2006 campaign. Now in his third new level of ball in three seasons, he knows this year is the most important one yet.

During his last two seasons, at Hagerstown and St. Lucie respectively, his playing time sharply increased which allowed him to find comfort on the diamond. In turn, his production went up and catapulted him to Binghamton in 2007. He remarked that although his game and mental approach have matured, his hunger for success has grown exponentially.

"I'm pretty excited about (playing at Binghamton). Another level of ball means I'm closer to my actual goal of reaching the big leagues. Facing the better competition will prepare me for the future. But, it also means I have to work that much harder. I'm ready for it. The more I put into it, the better the results," he said.

Carp hit his workouts with aggression even before he arrived at spring training. Over the winter he bulked up significantly as he added 20 pounds of muscle to his 6-foot-2 frame. Added weight has the potential to alter a hitter's swing and bat speed, but he contends that neither has been affected.

Besides hitting the gym, he detailed how this spring, he has changed the way he used the field. "I kept working on things I didn't do in 2005, which is hit and use the whole field. That really paid off last season. This spring, I hit a lot better off lefties than anyone which is huge for me."

Those signs of progress came as early as last season when he belted 11 of his 17 home runs to left field. Using the whole field will keep him more disciplined in the batter's box and prevent him from jumping at balls and becoming pull happy. The more he hones in his abilities, the further he will separate himself from other first basemen in the organization.

If there was one slight knock in his young career, it was his defense. Though opposite field hitting was his main offensive goal, Carp explained the methodical and intense defensive drills he endured during camp as he worked with Mets third base coach Sandy Alomar.

"I soaked up as much as I could from Coach Alomar. He took me under his wing; we worked together everyday. He's got a couple short range drills where he hits the ball at me from 10 to 15 feet with a fungo. It's all reaction drills and helps me work on my cross steps. It's a lot different than seeing the ball from 100 feet when the balls seem to come off the bat so slow. His drills really helped increase my range, I feel a lot more comfortable, so it really paid off," he said.

Carp is strengthening all of his tools simultaneously. Still not even 21-years-old on Opening Day, he accepted his promotion to Binghamton as a challenge and position he refuses to relent. He also fights through any notion that 2007 could be a let down after the high praise of last season.

"I accepted the award as a sign of great respect from the organization. I didn't expect to win it; it wasn't my goal to win. I was caught up in getting wins for my team and the Sterling Award was just a great compliment to the season. The award has added more fuel to my fire to keep progressing and get better as a ball player," he said.

In a new environment and a new clubhouse, a tremendous opportunity awaits him. With a mirrored at-bat total from last season, and executed techniques, his ceiling will continue to rise. For now, "I just want to put myself that much closer to the big leagues whether it's this year, next year, whenever. I'd like to keep improving my defense and get my average above .300 at another new level," Carp closed.

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