This time of year Charleston, South Carolina is known for its immeasurable heat. But the weather is not the only thing that’s heating up down in Charleston. The Charleston Riverdogs had a tremendous first half, landing in first place in the South Atlantic League Southern Division.
The second half has been off to a slow start for the Dogs, but it should not be anything to worry about as they have come back from worse before. Starting the second half at 11-11 so far, they have been steadily getting better as the season progresses. Just like the team is turning heads around the league, certain players are doing the same.
Cody Carroll, a 23-year-old pitcher drafted out of Southern Mississippi University, has had a hand in the Riverdogs huge first half. The 6-foot-5 right-hander has pitched in 17 games so far this season with a 3.74 ERA in 65 innings pitched.
“The first half of the season went really well I thought," Carroll said. There’s some stuff I still need to work on obviously, but I’m getting better and that’s all I can really ask for."
Playing in his first full season, it remains to be seen how he holds up over the course of a long season. He did pitch to a scintillating 2.58 ERA in his first 13 games and boasts just an 8.53 in his last four appearances, but the fact is his stuff has been rather consistent all year.
He has been throwing solid 92-95 mph fastballs, which is something to be said for. Charleston manager Luis Dorante and Charleston pitching coach Justin Pope are optimistic about his future in Charleston and in the upper levels of the Yankees organization.
“He has held his velocity well so far this season," Pope. "I think he even got up to 97 mph a few times with his fastball so I’ve been impressed."
“He has some work to do in terms of commanding the ball more but he’s got the stuff---the sinker, the slider, the changeup and everything that goes with it," Dorante added. "He pitched in the All-Star game and things are going well for him so far. Every once in a while his command gets lost and he has to get it back, but we’re working on it.”
Pope had similar observations about him and obviously he impressed some people in the organization because he did pitch in the All-Star game. The Tennessee native was drafted in the 22nd round of the 2015 MLB draft and started at Pulaski in the rookie leagues last year where he had a mini-breakout season of sorts, posting a 1.75 ERA there. He moved quickly up to Charleston this season and hasn’t looked back since then. His coaches have been impressed with him in the starting rotation now.
“A couple things we’ve been working on so far have been his consistency and keeping the pitches under control. I think he’s finally starting realize how to pitch and not just throw as hard as he can," Pope admitted. "That’s a process we’re still continuing and hopefully with time he becomes a pitcher rather than a thrower."
One of the things that has made Carroll’s process through the league a little different is the change from the bullpen to the starting rotation, and flip-flopping back and forth. It’s an adjustment that the Yankees felt was necessary at this point in time in his career. It’s an adjustment that Carroll feels he is making properly and with the help of his coaches he’s had an average run so far.
“I think the goal was to extend my innings a little bit so they approached me during Spring Training to get me in the rotation and it’s been good so far,” Carroll said.
“As of right now he’s one of those guys that piggy backs and I think he’s still doing that," Dorate said. "The guys up top make those decisions, but as long as he’s healthy and continues to improve his game, we can work with him however we can.”
There is still several weeks left in the season and the rest of this season’s main focus is on him just improving everyday. He is excited to get more innings and be able to really contribute to this team.
“The biggest thing I want to improve is being able to throw any pitch I want in any count. I feel like now I’m more polished mentally and physically with being able to command pitches," Carroll concluded.