Carp named Player of the Year

Mike Carp had 88 RBI in 2006.

NEW YORK -- Mike Carp took in the experiences a New York Mets player would have every day, surveying the home clubhouse at Shea Stadium and soaking up the big league lifestyle.

It was his kind of scene, Carp - the Mets' 2006 Sterling Minor League Player of the Year - decided.

"I could get used to this someday," Carp said.

Carp, a 20-year-old first baseman, was tabbed as the Mets' top minor league player after a standout season at Class-A St. Lucie of the Florida State League.

A left-handed batter, Carp hit .287 with 69 runs scored, 27 doubles, one triple, 17 home runs and 88 RBI in 137 games for Gary Carter's club, which sealed a Florida State League title by sweeping all five games they played in the postseason this month.

Sharply outfitted in slacks and a dress shirt, Carp was presented with his award in a ceremony before Saturday's 12-6 Mets victory over the Washington Nationals.

A ninth-round selection in the 2004 draft, Carp ranked second in the FSL in RBI and batted .350 (7-for-20) in the postseason to help the Mets past the Palm Beach Cardinals and the Dunedin Blue Jays.

His defense also earned rave reviews, improving by leaps and bounds this year. Carp was named the best defensive first baseman in the Florida State League.

The performance has Carp headed on his first-ever trip to Hawaii - not on vacation, but as a participant in the Hawaiian Winter League.

"I was surprised," Carp said of his selection. "I was planning on going to the Instructional League (in Port St. Lucie, Fla.) or maybe down to the Dominican. When they invited me to Hawaii, it didn't take long for me to decide."

Carp has pointed to his development as a more complete hitter as a major reason for his continued success.

A .249 hitter with Class-A Hagerstown of the South Atlantic League in 2005, Carp has worked on using the entire field as part of his hitting approach, leading to a 38-point increase in his batting average this season.

"I think it has paid off," Carp said recently. "Overall I [had] a pretty good year. I'm going with the pitches more, hitting them where they're pitched, and not being so one-dimensional now."

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