Why are teams so high on Carroll, a UCLA signee? Despite his smallish stature (5-foot-10, 165 pounds), the Lions’ standout senior profiles as the prototypical centerfielder – strong arm, great speed and canny instincts.
As a batter, the left-handed hitting Carroll has gap-to-gap power, and shows keen awareness of how a pitcher is trying to work him. In other words, you might fool him once – but rarely a second time.
“He looks like … Jacoby Ellsbury,” said Arlo Evasick, the Federal Way High School baseball coach who is also the director of operations for Pacific Northwest Regional Baseball. “He is about as sure a thing as an 18-year-old from an accountability standpoint, baseball-skills standpoint and work-ethic standpoint as there is.”
Here are a few ‘Wow’ moments opposing coaches have shared about Carroll from the past few seasons:
MIKE FINNEGAN, Bishop Blanchet: Finnegan waited 24 years to become a head coach, and his first season in 2016 was also the high school debut of Carroll as a ninth grader at Lakeside.
The two programs face off annually in Seattle’s Metro League, so Finnegan has had a front-row seat to Carroll’s jaw-dropping performances plenty of times.
“His speed is unreal,” Finnegan said.
Finnegan said the moment he soon won’t forget came during an early-career Carroll at-bat when he laced a hard-hit single to right field – and took off like it was a ball in the gap.
“He got down to first so fast, and he made the turn and he was on second base in a heartbeat,” Finnegan said. “I had never seen that before.”
Finnegan credited Carroll with saving the Lions “at least a run per game” with his center-field play – a big reason why Lakeside won so many close games en route to winning the Metro crown this season.
SHANE ELLIOTT, Todd Beamer: Like many coaches, Elliott tries scheduling a few non-league challenges, even from programs outside the Titans’ Class 4A stream.
And this spring, Beamer, led by USC commit Nate Clow, met up with Lakeside in the second game of the season.
The Lions won, 15-0, and – not surprisingly – Carroll stole the show.
“In his first at-bat, he lines a ball straight over my centerfielder’s head, who had no chance,” Elliott said. “But he has a strong arm, and … we held him to a triple.”
Except when the throw bounced off the third baseman’s glove, and just a few feet away from the bag, Carroll suddenly popped up and took off for home plate.
“I mean, the ball kicks near to where the coach’s box is, and (Carroll) still gets up and scores,” Elliott said. “I went, ‘How did he do that?'”
Elliott said Carroll later hit long foul balls down each outfield line in the same at-bat that were equally-impressive displays of his power potential.
MIKE DOYLE, O’Dea: Doyle is long past the time when he might have underestimated the pint-sized stars of the sport. He was an Irish assistant when his alma mater lost to Tim Lincecum and Liberty of Issaquah in the 2003 state semifinals.
“Carroll is so much more of a specimen than Lincecum,” Doyle said.
In their Metro matchup during the regular season, Carroll struck out in his first at-bat on fastballs.
In his next at-bat. Carroll watched a fastball go by. On the next pitch, another fastball, he pounced on it for a solo home run.
“You show him the same pitch twice, he will make you pay,” Doyle said.
Later in the game, Carroll tried calling timeout right before a pitch. The umpire ignored it, and the Lions’ star quickly had to readjust.
Carroll quickly stepped back in, not fully ready for the pitch, and ripped a three-run home run with just his bottom hand on the bat.
KYLE LARSEN, Eastside Catholic: Earlier this week, it was the Crusaders who ended Carroll’s high school career when they upended Lakeside, 5-2, in a loser-out game in the Metro tournament.
Larsen, a former all-Pacific-10 Conference first baseman at the University of Washington who went on to be in the New York Yankees organization, noted his team did as good a job of limiting Carroll’s impact as anybody did.
“But I am happy he is moving on,” Larsen said with a chuckle.
Larsen said he emphasized a game plan over and over with his pitchers before each matchup against Lakeside.
“We had a game last year when our pitcher went off script,” Larsen said, “and Corbin hit it off the left-center wall for a triple.”
Larsen said they also tried different defensive alignments – everything – to slow Carroll down.
“It’s the only hope you’ve got,” Larsen said. “He’s just that good.”