Image credit: Carroll Lawlar (Photo by Rob Tringali/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
Carroll and Lawlar, the Nos. 5 and 11 prospects on the BA Top 100, respectively, spent seven months together rehabbing their shoulder injuries at the team’s complex in Arizona last year.
During that time, the two became fast friends.
“Some special relationships formed,” Carroll said. “When you spend that many months with a group of people and you can’t do what you love, you support each other. I think that’s a bond I’m always going to remember.”
Carroll, the D-backs’ first-round pick in 2019, suffered a season-ending labrum tear in his right shoulder in mid May of last year. Lawlar, the D-backs’ first-round pick in 2021, suffered a labrum tear in his left shoulder three months later in late August, just days after making his pro debut.
The irony wasn’t lost on Carroll that Arizona’s two top prospects suffered nearly identical injuries. While unfortunate, it immediately gave the pair something in common and an experience they could use to relate to one another.
“The front office asked me to speak with him after he was drafted and see if I could provide him with advice about anything I went through, a little bit of that experience,” Carroll said. “Obviously I wasn’t as high of a draft pick as him, but we had some similar experiences there.
“And then a week later they were ‘Hey, like, he needs surgery.’ Kind of the running joke was like ‘We asked you to give him a rundown, but you showed him a little too much of your path.’ ”
Carroll had already been rehabbing at Salt River Fields for months when Lawlar arrived in September. The two rehabbed together from that point up through spring training of this year. Carroll lived off-site while Lawlar stayed at a team hotel, but they spent nearly every one of their days together.
Until this weekend, they hadn’t seen each other since. Carroll went out to Double-A Amarillo and hit .313 with 16 home runs, 39 RBIs and 20 stolen bases in 58 games to earn a promotion to Triple-A Reno and establish himself as one of the top prospects in baseball. Lawlar began his first full season at Low-A Visalia and hit .351 with nine home runs, 32 RBIs and 24 stolen bases in 44 games to earn a promotion to High-A Hillsboro.
Carroll was one of the original selections to the National League Futures Game roster. It initially looked like he was going to be the D-backs’ only representative, but three days before the game, Lawlar was named as a replacement for injured for Pirates catcher Henry Davis.
The late selection gave Carroll and Lawlar a chance to not only reunite, but to be teammates in an official game for the first time.
“I was pumped,” Carroll said. “We’re good friends at this point and it’s awesome he was able to come. I thought he should have been here from the start.”
LANGELIERS BESTS SHUSTER IN MATCHUP OF FORMER TEAMMATES
The last of the AL’s three home runs in the game came when A’s catcher Shea Langeliers hit a solo shot to left-center off Braves lefthander Jared Schuster in the top of the fourth inning. The blast capped the scoring and helpled Langeliers win Futures Game MVP.
Langeliers had something of an advantage in the matchup. Langeliers, a former Braves prospect, was Shuster’s catcher for three starts at Double-A Mississippi at the end of last season. The Braves traded Langeliers to the A’s in the offseason as part of the trade return for Matt Olson.
“I mean if anyone was going to do it I’m glad it was him,” Shuster said. “I’m glad he won the MVP. I was excited to see him in the first time for a little while this weekend.”
Shuster got ahead of Langeliers 1-2 in the count after throwing three straight fastballs, but Langeliers held up on a changeup that sailed off the outer half of the zone to even the count. Shuster went back to the changeup and left it up over the outer half of the plate, and Langeliers sent it 392 feet over the left-center field fence.
“I just kind of hung it a little bit, gave him a good pitch to hit and he did some damage with it,” Shuster said. “I kind of just put my head down. I’m never happy to give up home runs, but it’s all right.”
HAPPY HOMECOMING FOR Taj Bradley
Rays righthander Taj Bradley went to high school in Georgia and calls the Peach State home, but he was born in Los Angeles.
Bradley moved with his mom and siblings to Georgia when he was four years old, but his dad and most of his family remained in L.A. and still reside there today. As such, he had more than 20 members of his immediate and extended family in attendance at Dodger Stadium, making it a special homecoming.
“That’s what I was most excited about,” Bradley said. “It’s their first time seeing more play for a lot of them. It’s kind of hard (for them) to get across the country during the season, especially with work and everything, so the fact that they get to come see me, I’m excited about it.”
Bradley made the most of the opportunity to pitch in front of his extended family for the first time. He got the start for the American League and pitched a scoreless first inning, working around a leadoff double by Carroll to escape unscathed. His fastball reached 97 mph and he got four swings and misses, tied for the second-most of any pitcher in the game.
“That’s what I was more excited about. It’s their first time seeing more play for a lot of them. It’s kind of hard (for them) to get across the country during the season, especially with work and everything, so the fact that they get to come see me, I’m excited about it.”