Dragons open season tonight
Opening Day starter was college quarterback, but he never lost his desire to pitch.
By Marc Katz
Thursday, April 03, 2008
DAYTON — He used a glove a coach loaned him in ninth grade through the rest of high school.
Then, in the fall of 2003, Scott Carroll put the glove away to concentrate on playing football at Purdue, and didn't pick it up again for three years.
He didn't play any baseball during that time. He didn't play catch with his older brothers or college friends. He didn't play baseball at all.
Tonight, April 3, not only will Carroll be playing, he'll be the starting pitcher for the Dayton Dragons as they open their ninth season in the Class A Midwest League against the Great Lakes Loons in Midland, Mich.
"I know we're not at home, but there's still a lot of anticipation for this," said Carroll, a third-round draft pick of the parent Cincinnati Reds last summer. "I'm still excited about this."
Carroll, who is 6-foot-5, was a three-sport star (baseball, football, basketball) in Liberty, Mo., when Purdue recruited him.
"I was stuck on playing football," said Carroll, who insists baseball is really his favorite sport. "When I went to Purdue, they told me if I kept my grades up, I could play baseball as well my second year."
Carroll said he studied hard, but was not given the opportunity to play baseball again. He was red-shirted as a freshman in 2003, played in the 2004 spring game but hardly at all that season. Again, he was denied a chance to go out for the Boilermakers' baseball team.
"I was playing behind Kyle Orton," Carroll said. "They told me I wasn't going to play quarterback."
They never said where Carroll was going to play, or even if they wanted him to play. He didn't wait to find out his fate. Instead, he transferred nearer home, to Missouri State, which had a Division I-AA program. He played quarterback there in 2005 and the following spring joined the baseball team, giving up football for good.
"I hadn't played since high school," Carroll said, but he could still throw in the low 90s. "I was surprised I still had it. I also throw a curve, split finger and change. It feels good being back on the field again and playing baseball again."
Drafted in the 16th round by the Angels in 2006, Carroll decided to stay in school and wait for another draft. He had some leverage because he had another year of college eligibility in football and baseball.
The next summer, the Reds called Carroll's name, and after long negotiations, sent him to Billings for rookie ball. He pitched in six games, going 0-1 with a 2.93 ERA. In 15 1/3 innings, he struck out 15 and walked only five.
Carroll still has that glove loaned to him by his high school coach. He tried to give it back several times, but the coach told him to keep it. Carroll doesn't use it any more, but he says it's special to him.
How special Carroll is to the Dragons and the Reds remains to be seen.