During last year’s major-league draft, Brian Carroll’s phone remained quiet through 40 rounds. Thirty teams selected 1,215 players, but none opted to ring up the UCLA senior.
Carroll’s phone stayed mostly silent after the draft, too, as he fielded only a couple calls, the only serious one from the Colorado Rockies. But he remained unsigned until February, when the call he waited for finally came.
The Rockies contacted the outfielder in San Diego, where he worked part time in the office of a family friend’s construction company, and asked him to work out at UCLA. A two-hour drive and 24 hours later, Colorado invited him to spring training.
“It was kind of a last-minute thing,” said Carroll, a 23-year-old outfielder for the Boise Hawks. “They called me the day before and asked if I could work out the next day. Luckily, I had been working out and was in shape.”
The workout consisted of some batting practice, throwing and running drills. That’s all the Rockies needed to see, and the invite came just ahead of Carroll’s self-imposed deadline to continue chasing his dream.
Carroll said if he remained unsigned by the time spring training started, he’d officially give up on his baseball career.
“I’ve been playing this game my whole life,” he said. “I wasn’t really ready to start the real word and get a real job. I want to play this game as long as a I can. I didn’t want to give up on the dream yet.”
Luckily for the Hawks, he didn’t.
He’s the only undrafted free agent on the Hawks’ roster. But he’s come in handy the past month as Boise battles injury problems.
With Eric Toole out with a bruised thumb and Richard Prigatano battling a tired arm that has limited him to the designated hitter role, Carroll has played in each of the Hawks’ past eight games. He went 3-for-5 Tuesday with a bunt single, a double, a triple and two RBIs to raise his average to .286. He fell a home run short of the cycle.
“He absolutely knows when we have a full roster here that he would be playing in a backup situation and really looking for an opportunity,” Hawks manager Frank Gonzales said. “But right now, he’s in the middle of it because we need him to play.”
Major-league clubs don’t afford many opportunities to undrafted free agents. They come, essentially, for free and fill in rosters around prospects they’ve invested heavily in.
But after waiting for his phone to ring for eight months, Carroll said he’s not taking any opportunity for granted.
“I definitely appreciate it more,” he said. “You never know when the game can be taken away from you. Just play the game the right way, play hard every night and hopefully good things will work out for you.”
HAWKS 14, INDIANS 7
E — Tomita, Forbes, Lacrus, Davis, C.Herrera. LOB — Spokane 4, Boise 10. 2B — D.Cedeno, Clark, Padlo, Carroll, Causey. 3B — Clark, Causey, Carroll. SF — W.Jimenez. Sac — Carroll, Leonard. SB — Burcham, C.Herrera, Derkes. CS — Derkes.
|Tomita BS, 1||1||2||3||3||2||0||3.75|
|O.Lopez L, 1-1||1/3||1||5||2||3||1||2.40|
|Justo W, 2-0||1||0||0||0||1||1||3.60|
WP — Palumbo, O.Lopez, C.Villrroel, Black. HBP — by C.Villarroel (Moore). Umpires — Home, Justin Phillips; First, Justin Anderson. T — 3:20 (:05 delay). A — 3,467.