214 days. That is how long the 2017 season had been for right-handed reliever Cody Carroll.
He reported to minor league Spring Training back on February 12 and continued to play until the end of the Trenton Thunder season on September 14.
It had been a good season for Carroll, who after only playing in Single-A since he was drafted in 2015 made the jump to Double-A in 2017.
“Everybody in Double-A is a little more mature and has better approaches,” Carroll said. “Maybe not necessarily better hitters, but they know what they’re doing at the plate.”
Carroll made the jump in late May and was able to adjust to the Double-A hitters without any significant setbacks.
His ERA only jumped up 0.41 points (2.25 to 2.66) while pitching 27.1 more innings with Trenton than with the Tampa Yankees (20 to 47.1).
After a season of success and a little over seven months of hard work, Carroll was ready for the offseason and to begin preparation for the 2018 season.
But what he didn’t know the Yankees had different plans for him. On the last day of the season he heard it might happen, and then the next morning he got the official phone call.
He was going to the Arizona Fall League to expend his 2017 season a little longer.
Even though he did not plan to come to the Fall League, Carroll is trying to make the most of his time by improving multiple aspects of his game during his time with the Scottsdale Scorpions.
One thing that helped Carroll find success in 2017 was the addition and development of a new pitch. A splitter, which he is still working to improve this fall.
The right-hander does not hold his splitter with a traditional grip and admitted that it took some troubleshooting to figure out what worked best for him.
“Not everything generic works for everybody,” Carroll said. “You have to tailor to yourself, and we found a grip that works for me.”
That grip has helped lift Carroll’s play this fall. He has not allowed any runs while only giving up two hits in nine innings pitched. All while racking up 14 strikeouts.
This performance is impressing some people, including Scorpions manager Jay Bell.
“His time here in the fall league has been extraordinary,” Bell said. “He’s pounding the strike zone with quality pitches and he continues to grow. So, it’s exciting to see what he’s accomplished.”
Despite his success, Carroll knows he still has a lot to work on admitting he hasn’t perfected any of his pitches.
One thing that Carroll wants to get closer to mastering with all his pitches is his control. He wants to get to a point where he can throw whatever pitch he wants in any count.
Bell said he wants to see Carroll become what he calls effectively wild, to put a little bit of doubt and fear the minds of opposing hitters when they step up to the plate.
“That ability to control the ball and let one go, have it go to the backstop on occasion and then get back into the strike zone again,” Bell said. “Man, it’s pretty impressive.”
At the start of the 2017 season, Bell was Carroll’s manager with the Tampa Yankees and has seen the growth first hand.
For Bell, the most significant indicator of Carroll’s improved control is the power reliever’s improved walk rate.
After giving up 41 walks in 2016, Carroll only handed out 30 free passes in 2017. Carroll did pitch 24 more innings in 2016, but his WHIP is down from 1.42 to 1.13.
In Bell’s eyes, once Carroll can permanently correct his control problem, the right-hander will have not have trouble finding a spot on a big-league roster.
“He (has) got a really, really good fastball (and) good secondary pitches as well,” Bell said. “There’s certainly a great potential of him going on and doing extremely well at the higher levels.”