Trojans' Capps drafter by Mariners
By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on June 8, 2011 1:47 PM
MOUNT OLIVE -- Three years ago, Mount Olive College's baseball program took a chance on a lightly-recruited catcher with little pitching experience and a relentless work ethic.
It's safe to say Carter Capps was worth the risk.
The Seattle Mariners selected Capps on Tuesday afternoon with the 121st pick in the 2011 Major League Baseball amateur draft. The 6-foot-5 right-hander was chosen in Compensatory Round B in between the third and fourth rounds.
Seattle was awarded the pick for failing to sign last year's third-round pick Ryne Stanek.
"It was pretty exciting," said Capps. "I was just looking at the computer and my name popped up and I was like, 'I guess I'm going to Seattle.' Luckily, it was sooner rather than later. It has not really sunk in yet.
"You think about it your whole life and it is kind of surreal at the moment."
A catcher at North Lenoir, Capps red-shirted his freshman season at Mount Olive before making the transition to the mound. In two seasons with the Trojans, Capps was 24-1 and he was named the Division II Pitcher of the Year this season by three different organizations.
"He came to a workout we had in the fall at the end of his senior year," said Trojans' head coach Carl Lancaster. "We saw a good body with a decent arm. He was not being heavily recruited and we saw a guy we could take a chance on to see how he develops. I would say he has developed quite well."
Capps set an NCAA Division II record with 24 consecutive victories during his career. He was named the Most Valuable Player of the Southeast Regional and finished the season with a 1.75 earned run average. Capps recorded 129 strikeouts in 118 innings pitched with just 18 walks. He led all of Division II in strikeouts and was second in the nation in wins.
Known for being a tireless worker, just minutes after Mount Olive defeated Francis Marion to win the Southeast Regional and clinch a berth in the Division II World Series, Capps was nowhere to be found. While his teammates celebrated and thanked fans for their support, Capps had slipped off to the bullpen to stretch out his arm after pitching 6 1/3 innings of shutout relief to preserve the win.
Lancaster describes Capps as a "sponge," capable of applying a technique or fundamental he is taught in practice to his performance on the mound in a very short amount of time.
"I think I get my work ethic from just watching my parents and how they do things," said Capps. "My dad was always really handy around the house and he was somewhat of a perfectionist. He didn't think the job was done until it was done right. I got that from him."
Capps struggled in his final start in a Trojans' uniform and allowed eight runs (six earned) on 10 hits in 4 1/3 innings in Mount Olive's 9-3 loss to Winona State in the World Series. That experience along with pitching in two conference tournaments and a pair of regionals has given Capps the confidence that he is prepared for the next level.
"Obviously life is full of struggles, you might as well get used to it," said Capps. "I know how to take criticism, and take it and work harder and not make the same mistake twice."
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