Austin DeCarr grew up in New England in the middle of Red Sox and Patriots country. That set up a dilemma when the New York Yankees drafted DeCarr in the third round of the 2014 Amateur Draft.
“I was really excited. I didn’t really think twice. I think my mom was a little bit more shocked than anything. She’s still a Red Sox fan. I was excited, I was happy, a great organization to join,” DeCarr said.
DeCarr played baseball in high school at Salisbury Prep in Salisbury, CT and had signed a letter of intent with the Clemson University Tigers, but decided to turn pro. “It was something I always wanted to do. When the decision came, kind of weighed the pros and cons for both. I just felt like the best decision to make and the one I wanted was to come to pro baseball,” he said.
DeCarr was assigned to the Gulf Coast League to start his career and settled into life away from home for the first time. “Just being away from the northeast, living on my own to down in Tampa and getting used to pro ball and just knowing that it’s a job and I gotta go do it everyday. It was tough making the adjustment, but I enjoyed it. I learned a lot and I’m still trying to learn everyday,” DeCarr said.
DeCarr pitched to a 2-1 record with a 4.53 ERA. He struck out 24 batters in 23 innings pitched and ended up with a WHIP of 1.157.
That performance had DeCarr in line to start 2015 in either Pulaski in the Rookie level Appalachian League or with the Staten Island Yankees of the short-season New York – Penn League. Arm troubles would intervene in those plans as DeCarr, who had pitched with bone spurs while in high school, came down with elbow pain that resulted in Tommy John surgery. DeCarr went under the knife in June and was shelved for the season.
DeCarr didn’t hesitate when presented with the option of surgery. “It was pretty tough. A lot of guys are getting it. It was one of those things where when I found out that I needed, I was kind of shocked at first, then I went with the mindset that this is what I got to do and I got the surgery. Then I focused on rehab, it was a long rehab. I think I’m going to be better for it. My arm’s feeling good,” DeCarr said.
DeCarr worked his way back and was ready to pitch a year after the surgery in June 2016. He was assigned to the Staten Island Yankees and pitched to a 4.12 ERA in 39 and two-thirds innings pitched and 2-0 record. “It was definitely important, I was just trying to get back out there, throw in games again. Get away from the rehab mindset and back into just playing again, competing. I think getting back out there last year was important for me and it was a good time. It was a good time to be with the guys and I had a lot of fun,” he said.
DeCarr credited his coaches in the Yankees system for help getting him back on the mound to pitch. “They helped me a ton. Pat (Osborn) and (Justin Pope) here and down in Tampa, all those guys. They helped me with the rehab, the trainers. They get all the credit. Right now, me and Popey have been working on a lot of stuff everyday and he’s been great,” he said.
DeCarr started out 2017 in extended spring training before being assigned to the Charleston RiverDogs of the Low A South Atlantic League on June 10. While in extended, DeCarr was working on his command and consistent mechanics. “All of the guys are working on fastball command. Commanding the offspeed pitches, being able to throw them behind in counts. Mechanical adjustments, being able to maintain my mechanics throughout my outing. All things every pitcher’s got to work on every day for their whole career,” he said.
As far as his approach on the mound goes, DeCarr tries to go after the batters. “I try to just go right after them and attack the zone, not give the hitter too much credit. More like a bullpen approach but as a starter. I’m guilty of it and a lot guys are in getting into times where you try to pick and try to be too fine out there and before you know it, you’re walking guys. When I’m doing that, I just gotta get back into attack and make them beat me,” he said.
He throws a fastball in the mid-90s along with a changeup and actually two different curveballs, which he considers his best pitch. “I’ve been trying to be able to throw a couple of different ones. One I take something off and throw for a strike and one I can throw ahead in counts and get strikeouts.”
DeCarr got off to a good start, but in his last two starts has struggled mightily with his command. He has walked 10 batters in five and one-third innings pitched. That has directly led to giving up 12 runs, 11 of which were earned. “You want to continue to come out and when you’re pitching it’s very easy to come out of your mechanics. I’m trying to consistently just work on them because the more consistent your mechanics are, the more consistent the command of your pitches will be. I think that’s the biggest thing right now is the same delivery, every pitch,” he said of his struggles.
As far as who he looks up to, DeCarr picked Tom Brady, and for reasons that make sense when you learn about DeCarr’s career so far. “I love Tom. It’s the way he approaches it. He’s worked so hard over his career and all of the stuff he’s gone through. He was a backup in college basically and a backup in the pros and everything. He persevered through a lot of stuff and look where he is now.”