Tuesday, January 3, 2012
Showcase champ Kyle Carter powers up
By Matthew Muench
Kyle Carter wants Major League Baseball scouts to see his hometown of Columbus, Ga., this season.
Yes, the southern hospitality is one of a kind, and the 15-mile Riverwalk along the Chattahoochee River is a nice tourist attraction. But Carter, a senior outfielder/left-handed pitcher at Columbus (Ga.), wants scouts to watch him play high school baseball for the Blue Devils.
“I’m hoping my senior season I am able to bring in and attract some more scouts out to watch me play,” said Carter. “I want to show them what I can do.”
Last week in Phoenix, the sweet-swinging lefty gave scouts plenty of reasons to keep a watchful eye on him after he beat some of the best high school power hitters in the world to claim the 6th annual Power Showcase Home Run Derby title at Chase Field.
The 6-foot, 195-pounder stole the spotlight by hitting seven home runs in the preliminary round and then another seven in the finals.
“It’s an awesome feeling to win this event,” he said. “I feel very fortunate to win an event like this one because there were so many good hitters here.”
Carter bested fellow seniors Corbin Weeks of Evangelical Christian (Fort Myers, Fla.), Tanner Rahier of Palm Desert (Calif.) and Jordan Ebert of Baldwin County (Bay Minette, Ala.) and Hopkinton (Mass.) junior Ryan Sullivan.
Carter drew the third spot in the batting order in the finals and was the only one of the five to feast on the pitching machine — every other finalist only hit one homer each.
“After the first two guys went up I was surprised and figured something was wrong,” he said. “Then I hit seven and thought to myself, ‘Oh man, is seven going to be enough to beat the final two?’”
No doubt. And he also finished the week with the longest home run, a 487-foot blast during the preliminary round.
“I was happy with just having the longest home run,” he said. “To win the whole thing just topped it off.”
Now Carter hopes his power display will catch the attention of pro scouts.
He has already signed a letter of intent to play for the University of Georgia next season, but he also understands it’s never too early to grab the attention of the Big Leagues.
“I am planning on playing for Georgia,” he said. “But I also want to see what the scouts think and what will happen with the Draft. So I hope to see more scouts this year.”
Carter is used to having eyes on him. He has been somewhat of a celebrity in Columbus since he was the brightest star on the team that won the 2006 Little League World Series. Carter struck out 11 in the championship.
“That was a top moment for me,” he said. “To be on ESPN and have the whole world watching was pretty awesome.”
Since then, he has added to his baseball resume quicker than a Georgia peach ripens.
This past season, he single-season school record with 22 home runs and also led the team in batting average (.467), RBIs (47) and runs scored (51). He went 9-4 on the bump with a 2.33 ERA and 97 strikeouts. Carter’s performance helped Columbus win its second straight state title (11th overall).
“My goal is to top all that this season,” he said.
Carter hopes his power surge will continue this spring when he chases Micah Owings’ Georgia state record of 69 career home runs. Carter enters this season with 45 career homers.
“I think I can do it,” he said. “I believe I can do it.”
Carter’s heroics on the field have led to plenty of attention off it — he signs autographs for kids and stops to take pictures with fans on a daily basis.
“I am used to it,” he said. “I am fortunate too. It’s good to have eyes on you because you always have people making sure you don’t mess up.”
And everyone in Columbus will be watching him again this season. For Carter’s sake, he hopes more scouts will be watching him, too.