Corbin Carroll: What to know about Diamondbacks' top prospect
Everyone, it seems, has a favorite swing, a time that Corbin Carroll destroyed a baseball to such a degree that he left onlookers stunned. How, they wonder, can a player his size hit balls that hard?
In time, everyone comes around to a realization: That is what Carroll, the Arizona Diamondbacks’ rookie outfielder, is capable of doing — over and over again.
Carroll is one of the most highly regarded prospects in baseball. Last year, during a month-long audition in the big leagues, he recorded the sport’s fastest sprint speed. This spring, the Diamondbacks guaranteed him $111 million as a way to prolong what they are convinced will be the club’s Corbin Carroll era.
Carroll is also something else: He is proof that power can come in all sizes.
Carroll is stronger than he might appear and he seemingly uses every muscle in his body to generate the sort of force normally seen from baseball’s hulking power hitters.
“Corbin has a racecar engine,” said Drew Hedman, the Diamondbacks’ director of minor league hitting. “Even though the car to the naked eye may not look like it’s a bulldozer, he’s driving a Ferrari.”
Here's a look at the Diamondbacks' prized prospect, who comes into the 2023 season as the No. 2-ranked player in all of baseball according to MLB's list of top 100 prospects and Baseball America's preseason ratings.
Read more:An athletic marvel, Diamondbacks' Corbin Carroll packs power into small frame
How the Diamondbacks acquired Carroll
As a high school outfielder from Seattle, Carroll was considered one of the best pure hitters available in the 2019 MLB draft. He had already committed to UCLA when the Diamondbacks selected him 16th overall. He signed less than two weeks after the draft and was assigned to the organization's rookie-league club. Carroll was 18 years old.
Carroll's fast track to majors
Considering his professional career has been interrupted first by COVID-19 that wiped out the 2022 minor-league season, then by a serious shoulder injury the following May, it's remarkable Carroll's ascended to the majors so quickly. On a swing that generated a home run for High-A Hillsboro, Carroll suffered tears in his right (non-throwing) labrum and posterior capsule, requiring surgery.
He had played a total of 49 games with 215 plate appearances heading into the 2022 season.
Then last year, it all came together for Carroll, who was dominant at Double-A Amarillo, earning a promotion to Triple-A Reno in July. "The guy is absolutely dominating the level,” Diamondbacks farm director Josh Barfield said.
Carroll's first taste of the major leagues
A month later, the Diamondbacks were tempted to bring Carroll up to Phoenix, but held off, wanting to wait until he was ready to stick at the big-league level. Arizona finally made the call on Aug. 29, and Carroll made his major-league debut the next night at Chase Field, doubling in the go-ahead runs in his third at-bat against the Phillies.
About a week later, in a loss at San Diego, Carroll showed off some of the tools that have made him such a tantalizing prospect. He hit his first major-league homer off the Padres' Yu Darvish, and later in the game was thrown out trying to steal third. That was a mistake, but one that served as a teachable moment. More importantly, it demonstrated the level of aggressive athleticism the Diamondbacks are trying to tap into with their array of youthful talent.
Diamondbacks invest in Carroll's future, and their own
Carroll's one-month stint in Phoenix fueled the fire that's been burning within the organization that he can be the star the organization needs him to become.
In signing him to an eight-year, $111 million contract last weekend, the Diamondbacks placed a massive bet on how good they expect Carroll to be. They did it now, more than likely, because they did not think they could afford to wait; that is, if he delivers on the upside they see in him, he could have priced himself out of their budget.
The club already was banking on Carroll playing an outsized role in opening the next window of contention. If he isn’t the star the Diamondbacks expect, it becomes harder to envision that window opening all that wide anytime soon. If he is, they have a cornerstone to build around for almost a full decade.
The club also bet on the person, a point General Manager Mike Hazen made multiple times when announcing the deal on Sunday.
“He’s going to be a really good player,” Hazen said. “I don’t know (how good). I can just tell you that there will not be a day where the degree of preparation necessary to be a great player is not going to be there. And if I’ve got to make bets in this job, that’s what I’m betting on.”
This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Corbin Carroll: What to know about Arizona Diamondbacks' top prospect