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Chris Carlson: Blue Jays System’s Secret Weapon

Outfielder has similar story to that of Marcus Stroman

Chris Carlson: Blue Jays System’s Secret Weapon

November 8, 2015

Chris Carlson

Chris Carlson’s modest stature belies his determination and talent. He’s a secret weapon in the Blue Jays farm system. (Kyle Castle/MILB.com)

The 2015 Lansing Lugnuts had a ‘secret weapon’ in their clubhouse in outfielder Chris Carlson. Even though his life isn’t hidden from public display when he’s at the ballpark, his contributions are sometimes overlooked by fans that follow the team, as the prospect isn’t high on many ranking lists. But that never slowed down the up-and-coming star from performing with the best of what the Midwest League had to offer all season.

While Carlson might not be a household name yet amongst Blue Jays fans. Supporters of Canada’s team should get acclimated to the talent that the California native brings to the ballpark daily. Even though the 24-year old prospect is flying under-the-radar due to his age and level of play, any Lugnuts supporter will attest that Carlson is a player to watch.

Finishing his regular season with a .290/.379/.437 slash line, Carlson’s OBP was third in the Midwest League. Factor in his 36 extra base hits, which included: 21 doubles, eight triples, and seven home runs it’s obvious that the former 28th round pick was a total steal in the 2014 draft.

Even though his offensive numbers are impressive the area he excels at the best in the batter’s box is his plate discipline. Only striking out 42 times in 396 at-bats, it’s safe to say Carlson has an eye for good pitches every outing.

“When I’m in the batter’s box I just try to not do too much,” explained Carlson. “If you do that the pressure is on the pitcher to make good pitches. If he doesn’t I just try to take advantage of it any way I can.”

His success at the diamond doesn’t end at the plate, as Carlson is an above-average defender. With the ability to play all three spots in the outfield, the Lugnuts used the versatile defender at each location throughout the season.

Performing primarily at the corners, Carlson maintained a .980 fielding percentage, while taken part in three double plays, and assisting on another eight. While he’s known for his ability in the field Carlson admits that he would like to improve on his capability to throw back into the field.

“My biggest strength in the outfield is my ability to anticipate the ball being hit to me,” said Carlson. “I’m always trying to get good jumps. I feel the area that needs some improvement is being a little more accurate throwing to bases. You can always work on throwing. You’re never a complete player in this game. There are always things you can take extra reps at to improve your game.”

A side of him that should be familiar to most Blue Jays fans is his determination to prove that his height won’t preclude his future. Like RHP Marcus Stroman, Carlson is heavily motivated by the fact that he’s only 5’9. Consistently overlooked growing up on his size Carlson admits he comes to the stadium everyday with the focus of proving he belongs on the same stage with athletes much bigger than himself.

“I definitely use my size at a motivator every day,” said Carlson. “There are a lot of bigger guys out there that might get more looks than me. But I try to use that as a form of motivation every day. Just because I’m not 6’4 doesn’t mean I can’t compete with those guys. I use that as a way to fire me up!”

“My Dad always tells a story about me playing in little league with kids a couple years above my age and people thought I was too small to be out there,” Carlson added. “My Dad always tells me it doesn’t matter how big you are. The only thing that matters is what you do between the lines.”

Obviously a professional baseball career doesn’t last forever, so Carlson has his eye on the bigger picture down the road. Just like at the diamond, Carlson is focused on taking his ‘secret weapon’ status and applying it to a new career when his playing days are done.

“I majored in Criminal Justice in college, so I’ll probably do something along those lines,” stated Carlson. “If I had to pick I’d like to do something cool like being an agent in the FBI.”

Looking forward to a little rest and relaxation this off-season, Carlson has returned home to southern California to spend time with family and friends. While he’ll enjoy some time getting caught up with all his loved ones he’ll be focusing on getting bigger, faster, and stronger for next season.

“I’ll take a week off as soon as I get back home,” stated Carlson. “Then I‘ll start hitting the gym and focusing on all the workouts the Blue Jays gave us to stay in shape. I’m just trying to stay healthy and avoid the bad stuff so I’m in top shape next spring.”

Be sure to keep your eye out for Chris Carlson in the upcoming years as he continues to make a serious push to be a major leaguer one day.