Q&A with Matt Carson

Carson Likes Justin Christian's Upside

PinstripesPlus.com sits down with Tampa & Trenton outfielder Matt Carson for a Q&A session to talk about his 2005 season, what his strengths are as a ballplayer, which tool he thinks is his best, where he thinks he'll be playing in 2006, which players he thinks have the highest upsides, and much more.

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PinstripesPlus.com: Talk about your year this past season. How do you think it went?

Matt Carson: I went into this past season with a lot of expectations, especially coming off the year I had the year before. But this year, nothing worked for me. If I got in a groove, it wouldn't last long and then I'd go into a slump. Then I changed something. I felt all year long that in order to be good I had to constantly be changing, which is inconsistent. It was just a strange year.

PinstripesPlus: Did you have any goals heading into this past season?

Carson: I thought there would a good chance that I'd start out in Tampa and then get a chance to move up to AA and get a feel for that level. It eventually happened, although not the way I would have liked. My promotion to AA came at the worst time. I wound up seeing AA pitching in my worst slump of the year. But getting that chance at the higher level, even though I didn't do much, gives me something to prepare for next year.

PinstripesPlus: What would you say are your strengths as a ballplayer?

Carson: People have told me that I have all the tools. I think I have three main tools: defense, arm strength, and power. And up until the past two seasons, people assumed I couldn't run until I got an opportunity to do so in Battle Creek a year ago. I think the only tool that hasn't really come up is my average. Baseball is a funny game. You could be on top of the world and then you can hit a slump. I'm at the point in my life where age is a factor. I want to make it [to the Major Leagues] so bad, but then sometimes other commitments come up. Sometimes you start thinking about how long can I hold onto this. I think all it takes at this point is that one breakout year and getting some confidence to put it all together. It is not going to just happen. You've got to work at it.

PinstripesPlus: It sounds as if confidence may have been a reason for your down year this past season. Would you say that is correct?

Carson: Yeah, there were points throughout the season where I would lose confidence. There was never anything in my head where I felt overmatched or anything. Confidence breeds more confidence and then all of the sudden you're back on track. I'm just trying to even out the peaks and valleys.

PinstripesPlus: You mentioned a few tools that you have. Which tool do you think is your best?

Carson: It would have to be my arm strength. Up until this year, I've been playing rightfield and then I played center a lot more this past season. I can play all three outfield positions so at this point, my best tool might be my versatility. But at other times it could be something totally different. Right now my defense contributing to the team is probably my best tool.

PinstripesPlus: On that point, where do you see yourself in 2006? Which team do you think you'll be playing for and at which position?

Carson: Well I can't see them [the Yankees] sending me back to Tampa. I think they would release me first before they did that. I see myself in Trenton next year as a platoon outfielder. I think they'll get me into whatever position they can, playing left field, right field, center, whatever. I'm not saying the Yankees have given up on me or anything. I'm just going to be looking to getting into the lineup.

PinstripesPlus: What would you say is your biggest weakness?

Carson: My strikeouts. I strike out way too much. But this year, it was also hitting with runners in scoring position, which came as a shock to me. I'm usually very good in those spots. But I don't walk much and I strike out too much. I want to improve that.

PinstripesPlus: Which positional player that you played with this past season would you say has the highest upside?

Carson: I don't know if this guy has a huge upside or not. I mean, I don't think there is too much more room for improvement. But I'd say Justin Christian. I just love watching him play. He's a game changer on the base paths and offensively, he's as close to being ready as you can be.

PinstripesPlus: Which pitcher, among the ones you played with this past season, do you think has the highest upside?

Carson: It is a toss up for me between Tyler Clippard, Jeff Karstens, and Matthew DeSalvo. Clippard grew up a lot between the two years I played with him. This last year, he was just so composed on the mound. He went out there and did his job. With Karstens, I don't see anything spectacular but yet guys just can't hit him. He gets the job done. And forget DeSalvo. I don't even want to think about the amount of pitches he throws. Its insane. And the movement he has on his pitches is just disgusting.

PinstripesPlus: You've been in the farm system for a couple of years now. Which one Yankees' prospect, pitcher or hitter, do you think is the biggest "sleeper" prospect?

Carson: Kevin Thompson definitely doesn't get the attention he deserves. He was amazing this year and that guy has got some big time tools. I see him having a great Major League career.

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