HomeSportsCorbin Carroll has conquered the MLB. His Seattle legend began when...

Corbin Carroll has conquered the MLB. His Seattle legend began when he was 14 years old. – UnlistedNews

No one had seen the freshman play before.

They’d probably heard of him (any ninth grader with a pulse and a glove was on the Lakeside High baseball program’s radar), but until one chilly Seattle afternoon, it was all little more than hearsay. Sure, there were rumors, gossip, flashes of raw speed from him during fall football season, and some glowing reports from local Little League coaches, but 15-year-olds tend to exaggerate the truth, you know?

In the winter of 2015, Corbin Carroll was simply a talented kid who had never played an inning of high school baseball.

“He had mentioned to me: Yes, I’m talking to the state of Oregon right now.” He remembered Ryan Shaw, a senior captain and the best player on the team during Carroll’s first year. “I was like, dude, you’re 14, you’re not going to talk to the state of Oregon.

“Turns out it was.”

Sometime in mid-December, Shaw, an All-Metro receiver who would later play at the University of Richmond, messaged the Lakeside Baseball group chat regarding the team captain’s first practice of the season. Of the 30 or so children in the WhatsApp group, only four showed up, the others deterred by the dismal conditions blanketing Seattle’s Magnuson Park that Saturday.

Other than Shaw, the only other attendees were captains Sam Kuper and Kellen Goodwin. And, of course, a 5-6, 130-pound freshman named Corbin Carroll.

“It’s 35 degrees. It’s raining sideways, the wind is blowing. The marine layer is hardening. We’re having a hard time out there,” Kuper said. “And the only other guy that shows up is this little 14-year-old that we’ve never seen before.”

On his first batting practice pitch, Carroll swung and missed. He then rolled a harmless dribbler over to where the second baseman would be. To an unfamiliar eye, the boy might have seemed nervous, eager to impress the elders.

“I’m like, ‘Okay dude, no need to be nervous,'” Kuper joked.

The next release was storybook material. Despite what appeared to be a low effort swing, the undersized freshman launched one high into the air with a rocket fuel recoil. The ball cut through the mist and rain, soaring through the cool Northwest air, well over the fence in right field before landing emergency on a grassy berm about 370 feet away with a thud. without ceremonies.

“To this day, when I see Corbin hit a home run in the Major Leagues, I think of that moment.” Shaw said.

Carroll, to his own dismay, does not remember the swing. He keeps in touch with Shaw and Shaw’s high school coach, Kellen Sundin, and can remember the captains’ practices at Magnuson Park, but one specific image from that particular day has faded from the All-Star’s memory.

Of course, a lot has changed in the eight years since he hit that pointless home run. Carroll has gone from a mild teenager with the 16th pick in the 2019 draft to one of the most electrifying young players in the game. In just 118 major league games, he’s already earned the appreciation of NBA legend Kevin Durant, agreed to a $111 million contract extension with the Diamondbacks and emerged as the overwhelming favorite for League Rookie of the Year. National.

And as one of the greatest prep players in Seattle history, the 22-year-old will make his triumphant return Tuesday night to the city that raised him as the starting left fielder for the National League in the All-Star Game. 2023. It will be his first time playing at T-Mobile Park.

Reds’ Elly De La Cruz and Diamondbacks’ Corbin Carroll top MLB’s best rookies list

Reds' Elly De La Cruz and Diamondbacks' Corbin Carroll top MLB's best rookies list

Lakeside High School is not an athletic giant; far from there

The girls’ soccer team won state in 2021 and the swim team had a hot run in the middle of the last decade, but the selective private school is more famous for its excellent academic reputation: Lakeside is considered one of the best private schools in the region, if not the whole country. Microsoft moguls Bill Gates and Paul Allen went there together in the 1970s. Amazon megaboss Jeff Bezos sent his children to Lakeside. The school claims that “typically 100% of graduates attend four-year colleges

It’s the kind of institution that turns Seattle’s smart, well-to-do children and offspring into entrepreneurs, lawyers and industry titans. Considering the athletic mediocrity of the school and the formidable climate of the Pacific Northwest, Lakeside High is not the place you’d expect to find a future MLB superstar. Especially considering that coach Kellen Sundin doesn’t recruit.

“It’s such a crazy academic place,” Carroll’s high school coach explained. “So you couldn’t get anyone into the school anyway. With Corbin, I didn’t know what we were getting into, I just knew there were some rumors about him.” .”

“The way I describe it to people is that it happened in steps,” Carroll explained to FOX Sports before the Home Run Derby on Monday. “At first I just wanted to start when I got there, then I wanted to do well, then I wanted to play college. Eventually, professional baseball became a real possibility.”

Very few kids make their varsity baseball team as freshmen. Even fewer become contributors. Carroll, despite a four-year gap between himself and his fellow car drivers who grew beards, shone almost immediately as the varsity starting outfielder, leadoff hitter and key pitcher for a Lions team that reached the 3A state final for the first time in school history

“There’s a feeling this guy can’t possibly have as much power as him because he’s so compact. Yeah, he’s got the bat speed. But there’s incredible backspin. I’ve never seen balls with more carry than the ones that come out. of his bat.” Shaw said.

Unsurprisingly, Carroll continued to excel, showing up well enough on the exhibition and travel circuit to earn himself a commitment to UCLA as a sophomore. Then, before his senior year, a precious invite to the Team USA 18u National Team. That summer in Stars and Stripes cemented Carroll’s status as a likely first-round pick, as the Washington Stater excelled on a team that also featured the likes of Anthony Volpe, Bobby Witt Jr. and Dylan Crews.

“Coach [John] Savage from UCLA called me that fall and said, ‘I don’t think Corb is going to go to school,'” Sundin recalled. That turned out to be true.

During his senior season at Lakeside, Carroll exceeded sky-high expectations, setting the conference ablaze with a comically good OPS of 1.859. Students, locals and a flood of explorers began visiting Magnuson, an unspectacular baseball field in a city park with just a few sets of bleachers.

But what most people remember from their 12th grade season in the spring of 2019 is that video.

You may have seen it at the time; Lots of people did. In fact, the clip of Carroll’s timeless megablast went so viral that Max Debiec, rival pitcher sophomore from powerhouse O’Dea High School, had people tagging him online for a week afterward. Debiec, now a rising junior at Texas A&M with career aspirations, still jokingly refers to Carroll’s moonshot as “the incident.”

“I was working really fast, just trying not to embarrass myself, which I eventually did.” Debiec said. “I remember trying to pass him as hard as I could and it just hit him out of the park.”

“I remember watching the video.” Said Kuper, who was a senior at Whitman College the year of Carroll’s famous Internet explosion. “The ball landed right on the berm, in the same spot it had been a few years before. That’s when we realized it was going to be legit, legit.”

[Mintz: Julio Rodríguez loses Home Run Derby but wins MLB’s hearts — again]

Carroll’s rise to stardom has been remarkably swift — he played in just 142 minor league games and many of his Lakeside teammates are just graduating college — but the scale and ease of his rise comes as no surprise. No one had anything remotely negative to say about the Arizona rookie. Nothing tinged with an iota of doubt or jealousy.

“It’s great for kids,” Debiec suggested. “I guarantee every one of them knows who he is, they all look up to him in Seattle. To have someone like him, someone who’s that good, is big, big, big for Seattle baseball.

People describe Carroll as a regimented, driven, calm and self-motivated young man, fully aware of his immense talent, who effortlessly dodges the pressure and noise swirling around him.

During the chaos of the All-Star media availability on Monday, a Seattle-area reporter asked the local boy if all the extra attention from his hometown might create some added pressure for his return home. Carroll laughed at the suggestion. It is evident that the D-Backs phenomenon cannot be consumed by the weight of expectations.

He’s just never felt the pressure. Not as a big leaguer and not as a promising high school senior with scout ranks flooding his games. Carroll has approached every day of his big league life with the same quiet self-assurance that allowed him to arrive at Magnuson Park an unknown freshman on that cold winter day and inspire instant awe.

It wowed them then, and it wows them now. There are only a few other Seattlites watching today.

jake mintzthe stronger half of @CespedesBBQ is a baseball writer for FOX Sports. He played college baseball, poorly at first, then very well, very briefly. Jake lives in New York City, where he coaches Little League and rides his bike, sometimes at the same time. Follow him on Twitter at @Jake_Mintz.

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