Friday, August 2, 2013

PhoulBallz Interview: Catching Prospect Chad Carman

Chad Carman, image- Jay Floyd
Catcher Chad Carman has seen some solid success in a back up role for the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws thus far in 2013.  The 24-year-old currently sports a .360 batting average along with three doubles and three RBI in 15 games in the South Atlantic League.

Carman was sidelined earlier this season with a broken finger that required surgery.  After roughly two months of down time, the Phillies' 24th round draft pick from 2012 is healthy and back in action for the BlueClaws.

Last season, upon making his professional debut, the Oklahoma native native sported a .306 average along with four doubles, a triple and four RBI in 25 games with the rookie level Gulf Coast League Phillies.

This week I spoke with Chad about his success with the BlueClaws, his role on the team, last year's draft process and more.  Read ahead to check out the full interview.


- You've got a really good batting average and seem to be productive here in a back up role.  What thoughts can you share on your success in the Sally League this year?

You know, playing a part-time role I'm focused on hitting the fastball. (Greg) Legg's worked with me a lot.  I guess, if you're not going to get at bats everyday, just kind of shorten up the swing and try to put a lot of balls in play and jump on good pitches when I get a chance to hit them.  So, not anything complicated, just everything's simple.  Try to get on base. 


- I know you were sidelined with a broken finger earlier in the year that required surgery.  You seemed to get back quickly though.  Was the overall recovery time the amount that was initially expected?

Well, they gave me an option of surgery or not surgery and if I didn't have the surgery, I'd just have a crooked finger the rest of my life.  And the rehab was about the same time.  I had three pins put in it, for three and a half to four weeks and I started recovery after that and I've been- I mean it's about the time frame that they expected.  After I got that out, it was just a matter of getting mobility back in my finger and then basically going through an expedited spring training, getting my body back into shape again.


- What was the play that the injury occurred on?

I was actually sliding into second base and trying to break up a double play and the shortstop from the Yankees organization tried to throw really low and it just, a freak accident, hit me in the finger and it shattered one of my knuckles.  It hit and it hurt like crazy and I got up and I went to take my batting glove off and I realized my finger was basically bulging out of my batting glove and so I tried to pull it off and it was kind of stuck there.  I tried to grab a baseball and hold onto to it and they asked me, "Can you squeeze this?" And I was like, "It's broken." And they said, "Squeeze this, though."  "It's broken.  It doesn't matter."


- Last year, you were drafted by the Phillies in the 24th round.  Take me through that a bit.  Were you tracking it at all?  Were the Phillies on your radar as well as did you know you were on their radar?

Well, I had contact with the scout that signed me, Paul Scott, the week or two prior to the draft, so I thought there was a possibility that I could go to the Phillies.  I remember just watching the draft, round after round and having three separate teammates go before I did and I was so frustrated in that point in time I actually went up to my college's field and started doing field work with my assistant coach and just helping him get stuff ready, because I think there might have been an American Legion tournament or something up there and just got my mind away from it.  I didn't want to watch at all.  And I actually got the phone call from my parents, letting me know that I had just been drafted.  Then, I got the call from Paul.  And, so, it was a fun experience, but it was definitely nerve racking.  Nice to have it out of the way.


- You talked about initially watching it and then giving up at a point.  About what round did it become too frustrating to keep tracking the draft?

Oh, it was probably somewhere in the late teens, because that's where all my teammates went.  And I knew I wouldn't be a high round guy, because I had back surgery and I was from a smaller school.  I knew where I was going to be at, but still, to see other teammates of mine go was just, it just started getting a little frustrating.  But, I have no bitter feelings about it at all.


- You mentioned being from a smaller school, Oklahoma City University.  How did college ball prepare you for the minors?

I mean, in NAIA, your top tier teams, they've got plenty of talent, just as any other level, so I feel like I got really good competition against those.  I mean, there are some teams out there where they've got guys that aren't even remotely close to this level of competition, but for the most part it definitely was a preparation from the mental aspect.  Getting to play a lot more innings than you did in high school and especially the wood bat summer leagues.  I played against some of the top talent, playing around in those leagues.  And between that and the coaching experience that I had in college was just incredible, so I had a great mindset coming into pro ball.


- I saw you mention on Twitter recently that after long last your dad was able to attend a pro game and actually see you play.  I presume he's maybe been out to games and perhaps you weren't in the lineup.  Is that the case and how big was this event for him to get to see you in action here in the minors?

This was actually the first time he's ever been in attendance for a pro game (of mine).  I was kind of in a bench role last summer in the GCL and it wasn't till toward the end of the summer that I started playing more often.  I told him not to come out, because I didn't want him to spend the money to come from Oklahoma to Florida and he was real frustrated by that because in my entire college career, four years, he missed one game including away, home, where ever.  He traveled all across the country to see me play.  And for him not to have seen me play for an entire year was pretty big.  And then this season, he got really upset when I got injured, 'cause he was planning to come toward the end of the season.  And it just so happened that I came back a week before the trip that he had planned.  He kept it there, you know, "Hopefully, you'll be back!  Hopefully, you'll be back!"  And then I found out he was coming and Mickey (Morandini) let me know I was in the lineup and I know he got goose bumps, getting to see me walk out there and we got pictures before the game.  It was a pretty special moment because he's clearly my biggest supporter.


- You're one of the older guys on this roster.  Do you ever find yourself playing the role of a mentor or coach at times, for some of the guys that might have come right out of high school or anything like that?

I mean, I definitely try to, if I have knowledge or experience that some of the younger guys don't have, I try and let that rub off, because with my limited playing time I try and contribute something every day.  So, maybe it's somebody getting frustrated here or not knowing what to do there, I try and definitely let my experience come through at that point in time, so I think, mainly, I wouldn't necessarily call it coaching, but sharing experiences of being around the game at the college level and understanding approaches and trying to kind of reiterate some of the things I've learned because being- spending more time in the dugout than maybe I do on the field, I get to listen and learn a lot from the coaches.  So, I try to reiterate some of the things that they say whenever I get the opportunity.  I just do the best I can.


- Along those lines, if you ever had the opportunity to speak to younger kids, teenagers, that might be hoping to play baseball beyond high school, whether it's college or professionally, what tips might you give to them?

Aw, man.  At that age, I would honestly say you've gotta have fun and play as many sports as possible.  Just because I think there's way too many kids nowadays there are focusing- they want to play in the big leagues and they go, "I gonna play baseball all year round."  And guys get injured.  I mean it's a repetitive use sport and I think until the time comes when someone forces you to pick a specific sport, I think your best bet is to enjoy it, play all the different sports, work on your athleticism and just have fun with everything. 
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