Padres Prospect Interview: Sawyer Carroll

San Diego Padres prospect Sawyer Carroll jumped three levels in 2009. His 2010 goal is the same, if he plays in three levels this season he will be in the majors.

You got picked off in a game this spring. Talk a bit about that.

Sawyer Carroll: Right. We're trying to run more this year as an organization. Hopefully, I can steal more bags than I did last year. It's just one of those things. I think they know we're running too. He's a leftie, and I just went first move and worked on my jump. That's why we were not keeping score.

How have you matured as a baseball players since coming to the professional ranks?

Sawyer Carroll: Good question. I think I had to take a step back last year, and really figure out the whole full season thing. It just comes with showing up and putting your work in every day. You learn from people around you, especially the older guys. When I moved up, I got to see how they do it. They've got a lot more experience than me, and I think it helped.

You played at three levels in 2009. Talk a little bit about the challenges of going up and having to be ready for more competition as you go up. And, not taking it for granted, because you did well at every stop.

Sawyer Carroll: It was different for sure, just the travel in itself. Three stops in one year is kind of tough. Every time you move up, you just have to keep your mouth shut, keep working, and not take things for granted. It really doesn't matter what you did at the level before. You have to prove yourself all over again.

You weren't as pull-conscious this past year as you were at Eugene. How did that help you as an overall baseball player?

Sawyer Carroll: I think it helped a lot. When guys are just pounding away, you just have to take what they're giving you. I was able to do that, and it makes things a whole lot easier.

Does that also mean more power is potentially coming just because you learn to use the whole field and adjust as necessary?

Sawyer Carroll: We'd hope so. I'm not saying I wasn't trying to hit home runs last year. They're always fun. We hope that comes along. I've just got to keep working as hard as I can, and just try to help win ball games.

One thing that roving hitting coordinator Tony Muser said was that he was really impressed with how you hit left-handed pitching. As a left-handed hitter, I know that's kind of rare. What adjustments did you make specifically to left-handers?

Sawyer Carroll: I think I've always handled lefties very well, for some reason or another. I think not being so pull-conscious helped a lot, because you're not pulling off as many breaking balls and you're able to stay in there. Pitch selection was a big deal. Using the whole field gives you an advantage. It's what I've done my whole life. I got away from it a little in Eugene. I took a step back, and I think it helps to use the whole field against lefties. Like I said, they are trying to spin sliders and breaking balls away from you, and if you can stay on them, then it takes something away from them.

You were a clutch performer last year, 96 RBI across three leagues. Is there a different approach within the scoring position? We talk about the aggressive approach, especially this year, a little bit different mentality from last year. Hitting those 0-0 pitches, looking for contact early in the count.

Sawyer Carroll: There's definitely a different approach when there's runners in scoring position, especially for me. I'm going to have to be a guy that drives in runs to get to the big leagues. You have to pick your spots and be aggressive. But, then, on the other hand, if there's a base open, you have to take the walk when they're not going to give you anything to hit. It's not a whole lot of fun when they're not giving you anything to hit, because that's what you want to do, drive in the runs. You just have to take the walk and hope the guy behind you gets it.

Carlos Lezcano says, "He is a baseball player." What does that mean?

Sawyer Carroll: It's a great compliment. I like to go out and play every day. It's what I do. I'm not very good at sitting on the bench. I think that helps me. I'm all over the place. TK (Terry Kennedy) actually made me go catch bullpens last year just to get me out of the dugout. It's what I love doing, and I'm glad that he notices it. It's a great compliment.

Speaking of TK, one thing he says is that you're fearless. Again, another compliment going your way. What's fearless?

Sawyer Carroll: I don't really know. I guess that is a compliment. I don't really know exactly what he's talking about. I just know how I play the game. There's no use in being scared. I'm out here having fun. It's what I love to do. I'm going to enjoy it every day I can.

You've had a little bit of a bad wrap in your swing. How have you curtailed that?

Sawyer Carroll: It's one of those things. Metal bats are a little lighter. I still think it started as a good thing, and it just kind of escalated and escalated. It really escalated when I was in Eugene. It's just something you have to calm down. You have to make adjustments to keep moving up. I'm sure there's going to be many more adjustments I'm going to have to make, and it's just one of those things.

Do you feel like it's a lesson learned today? Are you glad it was in Eugene that you learned about it?

Sawyer Carroll: More than likely. I don't know. You're the one watching. I don't know. Sometimes, it's more than others. I feel like when I get too mechanical, I try to do it a little bit, just to try to loosen myself up a little bit. Then, that gets out of hand sometimes, too. It's not a perfect science, as we all know. You just have to keep making adjustments from day to day. Hopefully, it all works out.

We talk about loft in a swing. Do you have loft in your swing? Do you create loft in your swing? Are you trying to keep away from loft in your swing?

Sawyer Carroll: That differs too. You have to pick your spots. You have to pick the pitchers you're trying to hit fly balls against, maybe even the days you're trying to hit fly balls, the counts, stuff like that. I think I have a little natural loft that I have to tone down sometimes, and sometimes it's a good thing. I'm definitely trying to hit the ball in the air for extra-base hits, maybe not so much home runs, but line drives and doubles.

What are the 2010 goals?

Sawyer Carroll: I'd like to end up in Petco by the end of the year. I don't know where they're sending me. Wherever they send me, I'll just go, play hard, and enjoy myself. Hopefully, I'll have a better year than I did last year.

We all know you have a lot of great teammates and this does not take away from anyone you don't mention. If you could have one hitter hitting behind you in the lineup all season to offer protection, who would it be and why?

Sawyer Carroll: From my experience so far, it's got to be Matt Clark. The guy can really hit. He knows how to drive in runs. I think it was a big deal last year when he was hitting behind me. Me, him, and then James Darnell. When they would walk me, or I would get on, that's two pretty good bats behind me that you kind of have to pick your poison. I'm sure it wasn't a lot of fun for them going through that lineup all year.

Who is the one pitcher you are glad you have as a teammate and why?

Sawyer Carroll: Man, just the way I've seen him throw in spring training, I'm glad I don't have to face Simon Castro very often. He's a righty, but he's got some serious ability. He's a great guy to be around, and I just like having him on my team.

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