Riddoch sees big leaguer in Carroll

EUGENE, OR-- Eugene Emeralds manager Greg Riddoch claims to have no expectations for his new right fielder, former University of Kentucky standout Sawyer Carroll. But that doesn't mean Riddoch can't see where he's headed.

"I think he's going to be a big leaguer some day," Riddoch said. "Lots of tools."

At 6-foot-4 and 215-pounds, with a sweet swing, excellent outfield skills that include a rocket throwing arm and growing power to complement a run-producing mentality, Sawyer Carroll certainly has the tools to work his way to the top of the San Diego Padres system. And that's just what he means to do.

"I have very high expectations for myself," Carroll said. "I think everybody at this point in their career is the same way. Eventually, I want to play for the San Diego Padres for a long time."

Carroll turned down the chance to join the Washington Nationals after being drafted in the 18th-round in 2007. Instead, he rejoined the Wildcats, packed on muscle during the offseason and became a legitimate power threat, belting 19 homers and driving in a school-record 83 runs. The Padres responded by selecting him in the third-round of the 2008 draft, 111th overall.

Eighteen games into his professional career, Carroll has continued the progress he made in college, batting .301 with a team-leading 14 RBIs and three home runs through Sunday. He's also among team leaders in slugging (.521) and on-base percentage (.373).

Carroll is both adjusting to and benefiting from a constant baseball workload.

"Basically, playing every day is the biggest adjustment," he said, "trying to keep your body together, playing seven days a week instead of four days a week like you did in college. But it's been a lot of fun so far, and we're going to win some games."

Carroll claims to have adjusted easily to the transition from metal to wooden bats, a move eased by his use of wood during summers at Seminole State College, where he spent his first two collegiate seasons. And he's certainly swinging a lot, as his strikeout total of 20 in 73 at-bats attests.

"Yeah, I've been trying to be aggressive just to get some things ironed out," he said. "I think I can back it down a little bit more at times and be more patient."

Riddoch agrees.

"You don't have to teach him to be aggressive, he's aggressive anyway," he said. "You just tell him what pitches to look for, what pitches he'll see in RBI situations. ‘Don't just be a free swinger. Wait for a pitch up in the zone and drive it instead of hitting a pitch down in the zone and hitting it on the ground, stuff like that.'"

Strikeouts, though, haven't kept Carroll from batting a cool .333 with runners in scoring position. His manager claims Carroll is making good progress.

"He's just learning to hit that outside pitch more, because they don't pitch to him now the way they did in college," Riddoch said. "They throw a lot of breaking balls away from him. But that's why it takes five years to get to the big leagues."

Carroll will have a chance to improve on his .219 average at Civic Stadium on Wednesday, when the Emeralds begin a five-game homestand against the Boise Hawks.

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