As the Mets' Double-A squad comes to the All-Star Break, Inside Pitch takes this opportunity to look…
Carp Driven By Possibilities
The 22-year-old B-Mets first baseman has plenty of reasons to feel so positively about his season to date. The sweet-swinging lefty streaked to a .363 batting average through the season's first eight weeks before settling down to a .307 batting average and ten home runs heading into the Eastern League All-Star Break.
Coming off the 2007 season in which he disappointingly hit a rather punchless .251 in 97 games disrupted by injury, he is on a mission to right his own ship and get back to the pace and production that earned him serious attention following his award-winning 2006 season in St. Lucie.
However, despite the early season surge that got fans and scouts alike watching his batting average climb on a nightly basis, Carp insists the player everyone is seeing is merely a result of his growth as a ballplayer mixed with strength and conditioning coordinator Clayton Wilson's regimen.
"There really hasn't been anything change in my game I can point to," said Carp. "I think it's really just being more physically healthy and in better shape than I was last year."
"I've been under a strict strength and condition program this year that has kept me fresher throughout the season and I think that's letting me do things I know I can do. I didn't have last season."
What he did not do last season was stay so consistent at the plate. This year, Carp is staying through the ball better, striking the ball with more authority and showing the ability to handle any pitch regardless of where it is the strike zone. Combine those skills with his resurgent home run power, and Carp has the formula for his success. Again though, to Carp, what he is doing comes as little surprise.
"Part of it is a comfort level, but I know that what I'm doing this year is what I'm capable of. I feel as confident and strong at the plate as I did in St. Lucie in 2006. Last year with the injury, I was really trying to overcompensate and that got me into some trouble. Now that I can play and perform like I know I can, everything is coming together as I expect," he detailed.
With 48 RBI and a .386 on-base percentage at the break, Carp set himself upfor a strong summer, yet he now finds himself fighting back against pitchers who are adjusting to all the abuse they took from the first baseman in the early months.
In his last 20 games, Carp is hitting just .239 with a home run and four RBI which are results of having to adjust to pitchers' new methods. They are adjustments that will not only dictate how he fares the summer but how he matures as a hitter with many curious eyes on him and the prospect of a possible promotion looming.
"Those adjustments have really been the biggest thing I've been talking about with [hitting coach] Luis [Natera] and [pitching coach] Ricky Bones. There have been times even in games that aren't so tight where I'm expecting fastballs and the pitcher will throw me three off-speed pitches."
"It's little adjustments that I need to make so I can keep hitting even when I know I won't see the pitches I want. That's the next step."
Other steps Carp may take are on the other side of the ball. A number of times this season he has started in left field or moved out there during games. Though not known for the quickest of feet after spending the last few years of his career entrenched at first base, he is taking a shine to the position and its benefits.
"I really like the outfield actually because it keeps me fresh and I think gives me a little edge going out there and keeping me on my toes. I've actually really taken it to it and now I really consider it part of my game, and I think showing that I can do a little bit more out there can't hurt."
Perhaps even more surprising is that Carp is even working out at third base, something he had not done since his days in the Gulf Coast League back in 2004. Though he has yet to make an appearance on the hot corner with Binghamton, it is just another element that excites him with possibility.
"I have been working out at third, taking ground balls every day but I haven't gotten in games there yet. I have 14 games at third from the GCL, but I figure it's something to add to the repertoire and I hope to use it at some point in the future. I'll keep working there and see what happens," he said.
Taking into account his production this year, his vastly improved health, strength and conditioning, plus time at other positions in the field, Carp feels the anticipation of a possible promotion to the big league club especially in the wake of Nick Evans' call up.
Though he tries not to get ahead of himself, he does not shy away from the notion that everything he accomplishes now can sway the opinions of many, and it is what drives him to stay at his very best for the rest of the season.
"I'd really like to get to the big leagues at some point this year. I really think I can compete at that level and I hope my time will come soon because I'm feeling good and I think it's definitely something I can accomplish."
"Seeing Nick up there definitely gives me a big boost. I met with Mako recently and he pretty much told us that club isn't afraid to call from Double-A even though the big club has been playing better, so it'd be nice to be one of those guys if the big club does come calling again," he closed.
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