Padres Prospect Interview: Sawyer Carroll

To say Sawyer Carroll had a successful debut season would be a bit of an understatement. He led the Northwest League in extra base hits before being promoted to Fort Wayne and hit .299. It was a very good season.

When I was in Eugene, I saw you guys out in the outfield, working with Tom Gamboa, working on fielding the ball off the wall. What kind of stuff can a guy like Gambi help you with and how much can you learn in such a short time in Eugene in the professional ranks.

Sawyer Carroll: Obviously, Gambi is our outfield coordinator here with the Padres. He's pretty much head of all the minor league outfielders. He's just a wealth of knowledge, been around the game for a long time. He's helped me out tremendously. We worked in the mini camp and here again today. He knows a lot about what's going on. Talking to us last night after the game, he tells us what he thinks; what we did well, what he thinks we need to improve on.

So you work out in the outfield. Is there something specific you picked up out there like "I didn't know that before, I didn't even consider that"?

Sawyer Carroll: It's stuff you don't really think about. When he says it, it doesn't really register like that. But, then when you start thinking about things, it's not like he's reinventing the wheel or anything. He has a really good way of communicating with his guys. He's fun to be around and everybody likes working with him.

You come out to Eugene for your first taste of professional ball. Have you met your own expectations coming in?

Sawyer Carroll: Sometimes yes, sometimes no. It's been a lot of fun so far, playing up here in the Northwest, never really spent a whole lot of time up here. It's been a lot of fun so far, that part of it. With everybody coming out, you have some ups and downs; you have some good games, and some bad ones. I think I'm improving every day, and I'm happy with where I'm at. Obviously, I want to go continue to progress, obviously. I'm just going to try to go out and get better every day.

One of the things when you first come out, they don't really make a lot of changes with your swing. Have you had to make any adjustments along the way and what kind of adjustments are you making?

Sawyer Carroll: Not so much with the mechanics of my swing. The toughest thing is just figuring out how to play every day. Obviously, coming out and it's our job now. We've got to play 7 days a week, not like 4 days a week like we did in college. I think that's the biggest thing. There's a mental side of it; figuring out how to get your mind ready to play every day. I've changed my approach a little bit at times. Sometimes I think I might have should not have. It's not so much that they're changing it. I think some games I might be trying to do too much or something like that. I think I'm really starting to understand that you've just got to go out and try to do your best every day and not try to do too much. In the past week or so, ever since I cam back from my ankle injury, that ankle injury wasn't fun sitting out for that week, but I got to sit there with Riddoch and talk to him on the bench. It put a lot of stuff in perspective and I think I've come back mentally a lot better player.

What was it like working under manager Greg Riddoch? Because obviously he's another guy who's a wealth of knowledge; he's a little bit different than your normal manager too because he's big on psychological and that mind game, a constant mind game you've got to work through.

Sawyer Carroll: I don't think for us as first year players we could ask for a better manager than Riddoch. He's a great guy to play for, really easy going guy, doesn't have a whole lot of expectations, he's not real fiery, not in your face. If you're not playing hard, he will get in your face, and he will flip a switch when he has too. I think that's really good. He's just a great guy to play for. He doesn't mind if you laugh and have a good time as long as you're getting your work done and coming out and playing hard. I think that's about the only confrontation we've had with him so far; one game he didn't think we played the full nine innings and he tore into us pretty well and, rightfully so, because you have to come out and play every day.

Now, he also instituted a little bit of notebook work for everybody. I don't know if that's something that's new to you. Has it helped you? Has it continually put stuff in perspective in your own head?

Sawyer Carroll: Yeah, he wants us all to carry around notebooks to write down little tidbits of the game that you figured out, maybe the pitcher. Like he says, we're going to be playing against these same guys; we're going to be with the same organization. It might not be this year, but maybe next year you come up and you're struggling and you see who's going to start the next day and you might pull that out on him. It might say he might have some tendencies and you might be able to pull that out, hit a couple of balls hard, turn the whole thing around. He really likes us to do that and it's been good. In my career I haven't really done a whole lot of that. I've written some things down in the past, but not in depth like I do now.

So, what are the things you are writing down?

Sawyer Carroll: Mainly pitch sequences from the different pitchers I'm facing. Maybe if I can't see the ball very well of this guy, or I do see the ball very well off this guy. Maybe if I think I was too passive or maybe too aggressive, just stuff like that.

Does that hurt you at the same time? There's a penchant to go up, you just want to be able to see the ball, hit the ball. When you go up to the plate, if you have all of these things in your brain, now all of a sudden your mechanics get out of whack, all of these other things start happening.

Sawyer Carroll: I really think you can't think about it when you're in the box. I think if you prepare before you go up to the plate, that can help you. It can give you a competitive advantage; that's what Riddoch always says. Obviously, when you're in the box, I don't think you can think about stuff like that. It's like studying for a test. If you go over it, it can only help your brain identify pitches and stuff like that.

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