Carroll comes up Aces, homers in Triple-A debut

July 11th, 2022

"The Biggest Little City in the World" might prove too small for .

Baseball's No. 3 overall prospect parked a two-run homer in his Triple-A debut with Reno, which outlasted visiting Tacoma, 3-2, in 11 innings on Sunday night. Carroll, who will participate in the All-Star Futures Game next weekend at Dodger Stadium, also flashed his 60-grade defense with a pair of stellar plays in center field.

All in a day's work? Maybe, but his debut did elicit a few butterflies.

"Yeah, there were a few added nerves today," Carroll admitted. "I think spending some time recently in Arizona [rehabbing an undisclosed injury] added to that a little bit. I've worked hard to get here and it felt really special. The guys in the clubhouse did a nice job of letting me know it's still the same game."

Promoted to Reno on Saturday, the 21-year-old was given the day off but found himself batting in his customary spot atop the lineup against the Rainiers. Carroll grounded out in his first plate appearance but turned around a 1-1 pitch in the third, launching a game-tying two-run homer to right-center field.

"That was nice. It was special to be able to get that first hit and first home run on the same swing," he said. "I was able to get the ball back, which I think will go directly to mom."

Owner of terrific power that belies his 5-foot-10, 165-pound frame, Carroll's 18th long ball came off his bat at 103 mph and landed an estimated 414 feet from home plate. Although it was his only hit of the game, he made solid contact and saw 20 pitches over the course of his five at-bats, right in line with his season average.

Blessed with five-tool talent, Carroll came through with two sparkling plays in the field. The center fielder robbed Jarred Kelenic of a hit with a sliding catch to end the seventh and cut down the go-ahead run at home plate to complete a double play in the 10th.

Carroll's offense may be his calling card, but he understands what being a complete player means to his chances of success.

"I take pride in all aspects of my work," he said. "We actually watched [the D-backs outfielders] do their thing earlier in the day and it pumped us up. I think I took a little of that out there into the field with me."

Selected 16th overall in the 2019 Draft, Carroll was considered one of the premier high school hitters on the board. The Seattle native hit the ground running that summer, slashing .299/.409/.487 with 18 extra-base hits, 20 RBIs and 18 stolen bases in 42 games across two levels.

The 2020 season was canceled and his 2021 campaign was short-circuited -- by a season-ending shoulder injury suffered while homering for High-A Hillsboro -- after just seven games. He underwent surgery and did not return until Spring Training. So, for all intents and purposes, 2022 is the first full-season slate Carroll will experience, and so far, so good.

"I’ve only got my own experiences to compare things to," Carroll said. "In a sense, I don't know what I missed. I just go out there each day and try and get better. That's always been my approach."

Carroll finished his stint with Double-A Amarillo bating .313 with a 1.073 OPS, 35 extra-base hits, 16 homers, 39 RBIs and 20 stolen bases in 58 games. He was closing out a scorching June (.366/.452/.704) before going on the seven-day injured list on June 24.

Carroll played in two games on a rehab assignment in the Rookie-level Arizona Complex League before his activation and promotion to Reno. He now finds himself on the precipice of achieving his lifelong dream.

"I don't necessarily view myself as being 'close' to the Majors," Carroll said. "But [being in Triple-A] does make it all the more real that I need to I don’t view it as being “close” to the Majors…but it makes it all the more real that I need to keep improving. Hopefully, I'll make an impact sooner than later with the big club."