Corbin Carroll was at his Seattle home for just five days this past summer.
The rest of his break was spent in Panama, North Carolina, California and elsewhere. He played for a travel team based out of Virginia, another out of Walla Walla and toured with the 18U USA National Team. That’s not including his trip to the Perfect Game All-American Classic at Petco Park in San Diego, where he earned MVP.
This has been routine for Carroll over his past four summers while he skyrocketed up national watch lists and major league draft boards in ways few from Washington have.
His Lakeside coach, Kellen Sundin, used to worry about him, wondering if Carroll was missing out on being a teenager and doing teenager things. He sat Carroll down to talk about that after his sophomore summer.
“I asked him, ‘Did you even get a summer? Did you see friends? Did you do things you are supposed to do like socially and that stuff?’” Sundin said. “I remembered asking from a point of concern.
“And he was looking at me like I was an idiot. Like, ‘No, Coach, this is what I want to do.’”
Sundin hasn’t worried since. Carroll might have been away from his house, but he’s almost always at his home away from home on some baseball field somewhere.
“I just know what I want to do at this point,” said Carroll, the Star Times Baseball Player of the Year. “I’ve never gone to a baseball game, and I can’t go to one, and not be smiling. Once I’m out there I can’t think about anything else. I just get to focus on baseball for those two and a half hours, and I love it.”
The standout outfielder has been committed to UCLA since he was a sophomore, but Carroll is projected to be a first-round MLB draft pick next month, with experts pegging him as high as sixth overall with a floor at No. 16. Baseball America has called him one of the best pure hitters in the draft class and the best defensive outfielder available.
The last player from Washington selected in the first round was Mets outfielder Michael Conforto at 10th overall in 2014 out of Oregon State after graduating from Redmond. Reese McGuire was drafted as a catcher out of Kentwood at 14th overall the year before that — two picks ahead of Mariners shortstop J.P. Crawford and five picks ahead of Mariners lefty Marco Gonzales.
But only nine players from Washington have been drafted within the first 20 picks over the past 20 years, with the highest being B.J. Garbe going fifth overall out of Moses Lake in 1999. The most prominent was Liberty High’s and UW’s two-time Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum going 10th to the Giants in 2006.
“It’s not something that I’m waking up at night thinking about, to be honest,” Carroll said. “It won’t define me, and even if that happens that’s not where I’m trying to be. That’s just the foot in the door to get in. Nothing is guaranteed.”
And certainly nothing is guaranteed for someone as diminutive as Carroll.
He walked onto Lakeside’s campus four years ago as a 5-foot-7, 135-pound freshman. He’s not much bigger now at 5-9, 175 pounds — but that frame is about as pure muscle as can be.
Scouts are quick to point out how surprising Carroll’s power is for his size. He hit nine home runs for Lakeside this year and batted .540 with an OPS (on-base plus slugging) at an astronomical 1.859. As a four-year starter, Carroll batted .450 with 101 RBI and 22 home runs.
His power transcends the Metro League. He tied for the USA’s national team lead with three homers in eight games last winter, and he had way more stolen bases than anyone else (nine). He’s been the epitome of five-tool talent at every level he’s played, and scouts often compare him to Jacoby Ellsbury or Andrew Benintendi because of his skill set in a small frame.
“On the national level, you’re standing next to all these guys, and I look different from a lot of them,” Carroll said. “But if you ask any of the players I’ve played with I think they’ll tell you what’s up. Don’t compare me to what you’ve seen before. Just watch me play. I think you know what you’re getting from me every game.”
Said Sundin: “I think after last summer people stopped having questions about it. Even for a smaller-framed guy he’s always had a lot of power. If you haven’t seen him play a lot, that’s the part people wouldn’t expect. He’s not your prototypical fast leadoff hitter.”
But that’s where baseball seems to be headed. MLB is littered with five-tool leadoff hitters such as Mookie Betts, Francisco Lindor, George Springer, Ronald Acuna and Mitch Haniger.
Carroll was recently hitting with Todd Beamer’s Nate Clow, a junior and USC commit. They try to do that about 2-3 times a month after rooming together on their travel team, the Walla Walla Sweets, coached by former Mariners third baseman Jeff Cirillo.
“We would get back to the hotel and some of us are on our phones or whatever and Corbin is on the floor doing crunches and ab workout stuff and push-ups,” Clow said. “He’s just ripped. There is zero fat in his body. I’m not sure what his fat percentage is, but I’m pretty sure it’s one of the lowest in the world.”
He said Carroll drove to Federal Way to hit with Clow at Beamer’s field a couple weeks ago. Clow watched him set up a tee at home plate at hit a ball over the fence past right-center field with a wood bat.
“Most guys struggle to hit it out there with a metal bat,” Clow said. “His power is so legit.”
His teammate, Jackson Andrews, said he’s always getting texts from Carroll about going to hit or throw.
“Sometimes I’m like, ‘Bro, I got other stuff I’m doing,’” Andrews laughed.
“But he’s always been the hardest working guy I’ve known. He’s always staying late after practice, getting there early. He’s been just a great teammate to have. For as amazing as he is as a player, more important is having him as a teammate. He’s one of my best friends.”
The only question is whether Carroll would pass on an MLB contract to head to UCLA, where he plans to study physiological science. He’d like to be part of baseball in some facet the rest of his life.
“We’ll see June 3 what happens there and after that I’ll sit down with my family,” Carroll said of the draft. His dad did crew at UW after graduating from Interlake and his mom was born in Taiwan before moving to Louisiana.
“We have some preformed ideas and stuff like that, but I’m not really too concerned about it right now. I’m not having any sleepless nights. I’m doing what I’ve always done and just trying to enjoy the last few weeks of the year.”
2019 Star Times Baseball
C Caden Lockhart, Everett, Jr.
Knocked extra-base hits everywhere in the Seagulls’ run to the district title. He anchored Everett’s lineup with three homers, a 1.162 OPS and .386 average.
INF Dawson Baracani, Skyline, Sr.
Baracani hardly passes the eye test among Skyline’s towering lineup that includes WSU-bound Will Simpson and Stanford commit Cole Hinkleman. But the KingCo 4A MVP always delivers. He’s hitting .571 with a 1.368 OPS.
INF Owen Cobb, Garfield, Sr.
It will be hard to imagine Garfield baseball without Cobb and his scintillating defense at shortstop. Stanford commit capped his senior year leading the Bulldogs with a .446 average, four homers and 25 RBI (1.334 OPS).
INF Kelly Corl, O’Dea, Jr.
Injuries paved Corl’s way to O’Dea’s leadoff role, but his production kept him there. The third baseman and Gonzaga commit hit .411 and three homers (1.250 OPS) in O’Dea’s run to the Metro League tournament title.
INF Nate Clow, Todd Beamer, Jr.
USC recruited Clow (a former UW commit) primarily as a shortstop, but they see him pitching, too. Why not? He not only hit .436 with three home runs (1.241 OPS), but he also struck out 96 batters in 58 1/3 innings (1.08 ERA).
INF Mason Fritsch, Tahoma, Sr.
It isn’t just NPSL Cascade teams Fritsch mashes against. League MVP is batting .520 with 28 RBI and 18 extra-base hits (1.611 OPS), including two of his five homers in a playoff game against SPSL champ Puyallup.
OF Joshua Mears, Federal Way, Sr.
His strength and athleticism makes Mears look like he should be in the major leagues, not the NPSL Olympic Division. Purdue commit is the No. 95 MLB draft prospect in the nation by Baseball America and leads Federal Way with a .483 average and eight homers (1.621 OPS).
OF Cole Miller, Mercer Island, Sr.
This was supposed to be a down year for Mercer Island. Now it’s coming off the KingCo 2A/3A tournament title thanks to the UW-bound Miller who is hitting .385 with 12 extra-base hits (1.348 OPS). His father, Doug, also played baseball at UW, as did his coach, Dominic Woody.
OF Nation Wood, Lake Washington, Sr.
Packs one of the biggest bats in the state for the KingCo 2A/3A champs and state-bound Kangs, who are 22-2. Saddleback College commit has 10 doubles, a triple and eight home runs (1.536 OPS) with 33 RBI and a .413 average.
UTIL Owen Bishop, Arlington, Jr.
Bishop is the top hitter and pitcher for the 23-1 Eagles. Not only is he batting .441 with 30 hits and 1.106 OPS in the heart of their order, but he’s 8-0 on the mound with just three earned runs allowed in 47 2/3 innings (0.44 ERA) and 81 strikeouts.
RHP Will Armbruester, Eastside Catholic, Sr.
The 6-foot-5 New Mexico signee almost carried Crusaders into state after allowing one earned run in 8 2/3 innings in season-ending loss to Lake Washington. That came after striking out 11 in a complete-game to end Lakeside’s season. Also hit three homers this year.
RHP Nate Weeldreyer, Auburn Mountainview, Sr.
How dominant was Weeldreyer? How about 97 strikeouts in 51 2/3 innings? How about just four earned runs allowed (0.54 ERA)? The Purdue-bound senior had 19 Ks in a no-hitter against Auburn Riverside powered by his low-90s fastball, curveball and hard slider.
Coach: Brandon Hemphill, Skyline
How fun is it to coach a squad with this much home-run power? In his fourth year coaching his alma mater, and three years after leading Skyline to its first Class 4A state title, Hemphill has led the Spartans to the KingCo title, a district title and its 10th state trip.