Name: Sawyer Carroll
DOB: May 9, 1986
Selected in the third-round of the 2008 draft, Carroll was immediately assigned to short-season Eugene.
Six hits in his first two games began the assault and he didn't let up. Carroll hit .299 across 46 games with 25 extra base hits, including eight homers. He scored 41 times and notched 39 RBI. Carroll also drew 32 walks compared to 48 strikeouts for a .403 on-base percentage.
"Great attitude, hustle, plays hard, loves to play, and kind of what I like is that even when he's struggling he still has the same kind of temperament, just played hard, knew he had a loop in his swing," Eugene hitting coach Eric Peyton said. "He worked on his batting practice, but from batting practice to getting to the game takes a little time. I know he was glad that he got to go up to Fort Wayne where he could see a little bit more of what we were talking about and get another opinion on that."
Of his 53 hits, 47.2 percent went for extra bases and 13 came with runners on base – where he batted .341. Carroll was 5-for-9 with the bases loaded and recorded 15 multi-hit games.
A left-handed hitter, Carroll batted .340 off southpaws and .282 off righties. He was also a much better hitter away from home where he batted .386 – compared to the .213 mark he had at Civic Stadium.
The Kentucky alumnus was second in the league with a .951 OPS and second with a .249 ISO (Isolated Power). Carroll also placed second with a .437 wOBA (weighted On Base Average) and his 15.5 wRAA (weighted Runs Above Average based off wOBA) placed him fourth – despite playing in far less games than most players in the league.
The Oklahoma native was promoted at a time when he led the Northwest League in extra base hits and slugging percentage. He ended the season second in slugging and eight off the pace of the league leader in extra base hits.
"Carroll is more of the prototype big corner outfield guy, 6-foot-4, plus power, good arm and he put up some good numbers when he was in Eugene this summer," Padres vice president of scouting and player development Grady Fuson said.
Carroll played in 18 games with Fort Wayne, hitting .219 while striking out 19 times compared to five walks. He began his full-season tenure with two hits across his first 21 at-bats before hitting .279 the rest of the way. Three of his 14 hits went for extra bases.
The move to full season ball spoke of adjustments necessary. Carroll was fed a more steady diet of breaking pitches from hurlers that had experience and were in the circuit for most of the season.
Carroll didn't make the adjustments initially, rolling over on pitches to make weak contact or missing entirely.
Rapping his bat towards the pitcher – where the bat becomes almost parallel to the ground and the bat head is facing the pitcher – creates a long swing. Pitches thrown on the inside corner are tough for Carroll to get his hands down in time.
"He's a good one," Eugene manager Greg Riddoch said. "(Blake) Tekotte and him are kind of similar in what they need to do. They float in their swing a little bit. Their body floats forward and their eyes and head float forward a little bit and so it's hard when you do that to handle the outside third of the plate. So a lot of teams started pitching both of them away on that outside third.
"In college, they do a lot of switching when you got left versus right. And they just need to see a lot of left-handed pitchers to become better at hitting pitchers from the same side."
Quick wrists take away some of the drag associated with a rap, but Carroll found himself having to commit to a pitch earlier and swinging at balls outside of the strike zone.
An extra split-second will allow the ball to travel deeper – giving him better pitch recognition while seeing the spin of the ball. His plate discipline will increase by proxy. Eliminating the rap is a big part of the process.
It also makes it hard for the left-handed hitter to stay with pitches on the outside corner. Because of the rap, he will try and compensate by leaning forward – putting his body and head in a position where it appears he is falling away from the ball.
Carroll is a power hitter that can drive balls to all parts of the field. He has easy power to the opposite field and takes balls over the center of the plate into the left-center gaps with regularity.
Once he learns to get his hands inside the ball, he will be able to pull more balls on the inner half and up his home run totals as the plus power suggest he can.
"Good balance, good free loads, good separation in his swing," Peyton said. "Still a little loopy, just because the aluminum bat type swing, and he was still learning, making an adjustment.
"I think one of the things I noticed in young people is that they really didn't have to make adjustments before. When you get in pro baseball, you have to make adjustments, a little bit, and it just takes time."
Defensively, Carroll has a good enough arm for right field and makes accurate throws. He will, at times, rush trying to make a play on a runner, pushing his balance off and the throw goes astray.
He is an average route runner and sees the ball well off the bat. His first-step quickness could use some work to get to more balls in the gaps, and Carroll is still learning to play the ball off the wall.
Carroll is not a threat to steal bases but will take an extra base off sleeping defenders.
"Good defense, and accurate arm," Riddoch said. "Like I said, man, we're starting to back up some outfielders where we're going, ‘Holy, Jiminy Christmas, what do we do here?'"
Conclusion: Carroll's future is tied to his bat and the adjustments he can make to hit higher level pitching. He has plus power potential but must cut down on the mechanical deficiencies that will be exposed as he goes up the chain.
Hailed for his terrific makeup and desire to improve, Carroll has the temperament to improve. He is able to constructively take suggestions and apply them, giving him top prospect potential.
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