Sam Carlson Makes First Start Since 2017
Amidst the armada of arms in the Mariners’ farm system, Sam Carlson is doing plenty to ensure no one forgets about his.
The 22-year-old righthander went almost four years between minor league starts due to persistent elbow pain that led to Tommy John surgery. But he flashed the tantalizing stuff and physical prowess that first impressed Seattle when it drafted Carlson in the second round in 2017 from Burnsville (Minn.) High and signed him for $2 million.
In his first minor league start since July 2017, Carlson tossed four innings for Low-A Modesto on May 8, allowing two hits and striking out seven. He followed that with 4.2 frames with seven more strikeouts and two hits allowed on May 15.
“It’s been really good,” Carlson said in a video conference with reporters this past offseason. “It’s kind of like learning who I am as a pitcher again, building that confidence back and getting those in-game reps where the intensity and your adrenaline are at levels that you can’t get to unless you’re actually in those games.
“That’s been the biggest part—just getting my feet under me on the mound, competing against guys in other jerseys and showing myself that I’m healthy and I can do whatever I put my mind to again.”
Carlson already is among the most physically imposing players in the organization at 6-foot-4, 215 pounds. He was throwing 95 mph out of high school and he’s back to that velocity now, with a curveball he also added to his fastball, slider and changeup.
“I’m convinced he’s as tough of a person as we have in our system,” Mariners farm director Andy McKay said. “I’ve seen the velocity come back. I’ve seen the breaking ball. I’ve seen the changeup. I’ve seen the strikes.
“Sam has a wisdom about him that there is no way you could have given him outside of him going through the experiences he’s gone through. I’m just as excited about Sam as the day we drafted him.”
— After going hitless in his major league debut, prized Mariners outfield prospect Jarred Kelenic went yard the next day for his first major league hit. He took Indians starter Aaron Civale deep. The last Mariners player to homer for his first major league hit was Kyle Lewis in 2019.
— Outfielder Julio Rodriguez started hot with High-A Everett, hitting .303/.391/.592 with five home runs and five doubles through 18 games.