Mesa’s Carlson to begin career in Gulf Coast League

Kris Carlson didn’t pitch in a baseball came until his sophomore year of college.

Now, the former Colorado Mesa University relief pitcher is getting an opportunity to pitch professionally.

The right-hander from Wenatchee, Wash., was drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays in the 35th round and will begin his professional career with the Rays’ Gulf Coast League team next week.

He’s been in the Rays’ minicamp this past week getting acclimated to the Florida heat and his new teammates.

“I think being drafted by an organization like Tampa Bay is great,” Carlson told The Daily Sentinel. “They are known for taking young arms. For me to mature down here in an organization excited about young talent, I’m excited about that. Tampa is known for developing pitchers and moving them up quick.”

He played outfield in high school and went to his local community college to play outfield, but his sophomore year, one of the coaches wanted to try him out on the mound. Carlson pitched 12 innings that year and was drafted by the Kansas City Royals.

“I didn’t sign because I needed more work,” he said. “I remember growing up, people say, ‘He’s got to start pitching.’ I was pretty raw.”

Carlson went to Abilene Christian University for one year and pitched exclusively. He had 37 strikeouts in 33 innings for the Wildcats.

He transferred to Colorado Mesa for his senior season. He appeared in 13 games and had 12 strikeouts in 15 innings.

He had a meeting with the Gulf Coast League Rays pitching coach about his role.

“I sat down with the pitching coach and had a meeting (about) what I thought I was, a late-inning reliever,” Carlson said. “I’ve done all type of relief. I don’t know if they have any other plans for me.”

He consistently reached 92 mph with his fastball.

“I’ve actually been referred to as an upside pick,” said Carlson of a Rays Digest article on

Local Prep Draftees

Grand Junction’s Casey Burns and Montrose’s Zane Hemond apparently haven’t signed.

Burns has signed a letter-of-intent with St. Mary’s (Calif.) College and has already enrolled in classes.

Hemond is considering a tryout at Phoenix (Ariz.) College, Montrose coach Landon Wareham said.

JUCO Draftees

The following lists the signing/assignment status of former Alpine Bank Junior College World Series participants who were drafted this year:

■ Alec Asher, P, Polk State (Fla.) College: Texas Rangers’ Class A Short-season (Spokane).

■ Dylan Baker, P, Western Nevada College: not announced.

■ Fred Ford, OF, Jefferson (Mo.) College: Kansas City Royals’ Rookie (Burlington, N.C.).

■ Daniel Stumpf, P, San Jacinto (Texas) College-North: Royals’ Rookie (Burlington, N.C.).

■ Anthony Banda, P, San Jacinto: not announced.

■ Brett Wiley, SS, Jefferson: signed, but not assigned.

■ Bruce Caldwell, 2B, Spartanburg Methodist (S.C.) College: signed, but not assigned.

■ Adam Giacalone, 1B, Neosho County (Kan.) CC: not announced.

■ David Bote, SS, Neosho County: not announced.

■ Damek Tomscha, 3B, Iowa Western CC: not announced.

■ Jorge Flores, SS, Central Arizona (2011): Toronto Blue Jays’ Class A short-season (Vancouver).

■ Iseha Conklin, SS, Iowa Western: not announced.

■ Matt Strahm, P, Neosho County: Royals’ Rookie (Idaho Falls).

■ Leonard Hollins, P, Chipola (2011): not announced.

■ Keaton Steele, P, Iowa Western: not announced.

■ Michael Salter, P, Cisco (Texas) College: signed, but not assigned.

■ Jonathan Pulley, P, Spartanburg: signed, but not assigned.

■ Dalton Friend, P, Jefferson: Pittsburgh Pirates Class A Short-season (State College).

■ Marty Gantt, OF, Spartanburg (2009): Rays’ Class A Short-season (Hudson Valley).


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