TAMPA, Fla. -- As part of MLB Pipeline's visit to all 30 Spring Training facilities, we're sitting down with prospects and getting to know them a little better. At Yankees camp, it was New York's No. 17 prospect, Cody Carroll. Carroll missed his first season at Southern Mississippi while recovering
TAMPA, Fla. -- As part of MLB Pipeline's visit to all 30 Spring Training facilities, we're sitting down with prospects and getting to know them a little better. At Yankees camp, it was New York's No. 17 prospect, Cody Carroll.
Carroll missed his first season at Southern Mississippi while recovering from Tommy John surgery and then pitched well in the team's rotation over the next two years. Signed for $70,000 as a redshirt junior after being selected in the 22nd round of the 2015 Draft, he served as a swingman in his first full pro season before taking off when the Yankees made him a full-time reliever in 2017. Carroll posted a 2.54 ERA and .191 opponents' average with 89 strikeouts in 67 1/3 innings in his new role, spending much of the season in Double-A. He then emerged as the top bullpen prospect in Arizona Fall League, as he paced the circuit and saves while not allowing a hit to a right-handed hitter.
• Yankees' camp report
MLB Pipeline: As someone who started in college and then handled multiple roles in your first full season, did you embrace the move to the bullpen in 2017?
:: MLB Pipeline Spring Training reports ::
Cody Carroll: It was different, because I had been mostly a starter, but it was an easy transition for me. I just picked it up really quickly, and it's helped my career immensely here in the last three years.
MLB Pipeline: What was it about you as a pitcher that made the transition so easy?
Carroll: I think it's the mentality. Even as a starter, I was blowing out, throwing as fast as I could, so I think having that mentality definitely helped me a lot.
MLB Pipeline: How do you feel you improved in your first full season as a reliever last year?
Carroll: I was able to improve command a lot -- that was a big thing. Me being able to command my fastball better kept hitters from sitting on it and my velocity, and then being able to throw other pitches around the zone in a slider and a splitter that I'm still working on. Yeah, better fastball command and becoming a guy who's more than a one-pitch pitcher.
MLB Pipeline: So after excelling in the Florida State and Eastern Leagues, you went out to the Arizona Fall League and absolutely dominated hitters there. Did that AFL experience at all make you realize how close you are to the Major Leagues?
Carroll: For sure. There's great competition in [the Fall League], and it makes you realize that your stuff does play in the long run. You get a taste of it every now and then in Double-A, but being out there, where everybody is a top prospect, and pitching well was really eye-opening.
MLB Pipeline: After all that success last season, what has your experience in big league camp been like this spring? What has it been like mixing in with the Yankees' talented Major League pitching staff?
Carroll: It's been fun, man. After watching all these guys on TV every day last year, being here and getting to see everyone in real life -- see how they work, what they do, how they prepare -- it's been awesome. Gives me some perspective, for sure.
MLB Pipeline: Working on anything specific this spring? What are some goals that you've set for yourself in terms of development this year?
Carroll: Just continue to fill up the strike zone with fastballs and sliders, really. Developing my splitter has been a big thing here in camp, and I think we finally found the grip that's going to work for me in the long run. Me and [Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild] have been working on it, tweaking it every chance we have in the bullpen. Continuing to improve my command is probably the biggest thing, because I can get a little erratic sometimes and pull off my fastball and slider. I want to be in the zone, not spraying balls all over the place and throwing spinning sliders.
Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB Pipeline. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero.