MadFriars' Interview: Stephen Carmon

PEORIA, AZ: Stephen Carmon was selected in the tenth round of the 2012 draft by the San Diego Padres out of the University of South Carolina at Aiken.

The 5'7" Carmon played four years for the Division II Pacers culminating in senior year where he hit .348 and stole 45 bases. He finished his career with 100 stolen bags and never hitting below .335 in all four years. Best number from his senior year with the Pacers, only striking out six times in 254 plate appearances.

In 2012 with the Eugene Emeralds he hit a very respectable .275/.383/.377 and according to Padres' Vice-President of Development Randy Smith, was one of the best defensive shortstops in the Northwest League.

We caught up with Stephen at the end of spring training before he was to start his first full-season year in Fort Wayne.

ell us a little about yourself. You were a tenth round pick out of USC-Aiken in 2012. How did you get there?

Stephen Carmon: I wasn't highly recruited out of high school. There were a few Division II schools and JUCOs that were interested in me but also USC-Aiken.

I went there on a visit and really liked the facilities and coaches. It was between them and their rival school Francis Marion and I ended up choosing them. It turned out to be a pretty good move for me.

You had a good career there. Talk about the type of game that you play both offensively and defensively?

Stephen Carmon: I'm more of singles guy, get on base, steal some bases and play good defense at shortstop. My main thing is to help my team anyway that I can.

I've noticed that a lot of guys that are singles hitters don't have that high of an on-base percentage but you have throughout your career. How do you do that?

Stephen Carmon: I try to not swing at bad pitches and make them work. I'm not the biggest guy in the world and I get down in a crouch and try to get a good pitch to hit.

If I don't get my pitch I'll take a walk and steal second.

How much of a change was it to go from college with an aluminum bat to a wooden one in short season.

Stephen Carmon: I had played with wood before and playing short-season ball in Eugene was like a continuation of the college season. It was long season but I also got hurt so it wasn't that big of an adjustment.

I'm sure I'm going to feel it a little more this year in Fort Wayne because its going to 140 games. The big thing is just to go out there and do my best to stay healthy.

When we talk about how long the season is its not that big of an adjustment because guys like you have played summer league every year after the college season.

Stephen Carmon: I played every year after the season in college. It adds up but I love playing, so yes, it was kind of typical year for me.

How was the adjustment from college to pros with the obvious exception that the players are better?

Stephen Carmon: The pitching is the biggest difference. Where I went to school you may see one or two guys that can throw ninety plus but here everyone can. That was the biggest adjustment for me.

Even though they are throwing harder the main thing was to let the game come to me.

But professional hitters like yourself can hit a fastball the big difference is the ability to throw off-speed for strikes.

Stephen Carmon: That is the biggest thing is the change-up. In college most guys can't throw them or their breaking stuff for strikes, here they can.

I had to adjust so I worked with Chris Prieto, [the Emeralds' hitting coach last year, who is now with the Mariners], and he got me to go the other way with the change which helped me a lot.

Did you notice much difference between the wooden and aluminum bat?

Stephen Carmon: I hit with a wooden bat for two years in the summer so it wasn't that big of an adjustment for me. Defensively, I've always been solid. For hitting I usually struggle at first then pick it up.

I guess I adjust too the competition.

It must be a thrill for you to come out here and show you can play with all of these players from bigger schools.

Stephen Carmon: It is especially since I'm a smaller guy, then I get a chance to show my skills [laughs].

You are a left-handed hitter and throw right-handed. How did that come about?

Stephen Carmon: My dad was a left-handed thrower and hitter. He told me when I was younger he wasn't going to force anything on me but I've always just thrown in right-handed and when I picked up a bat I swung it lefty.

It's just a fate thing.

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