06/18/12 — Carter Capps reaches Southern League All-star game

View Archive

Carter Capps reaches Southern League All-star game

By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on June 18, 2012 1:48 PM

JACKSON, Tenn. -- Carter Capps' rise from a lanky, lightly-recruited catcher to a highly-coveted pitching prospect was somewhat of a blur.

Now a reliever in the Seattle Mariners' organization, Capps' fastball is a blur in its own right.

The former Mount Olive College ace is now the closer for the Double-A Jackson (Tenn.) Generals of the Southern League. With a fastball that has reached 100 miles per hour this season, Capps is 2-2 with a 1.34 ERA and nine saves in 24 appearances.

Capps was recently selected to the Southern League All-Star Game which is being held Tuesday night at Smokies Park in Kodak, TN. Former Mount Olive pitcher and current Birmingham Barons' reliever Ryan Kussmaul has also been selected to the All-Star Game.

"That was one of my goals coming into the season," Capps said of being selected to the All-Star Game. "I'm lucky and blessed to be chosen. There are a lot of great pitchers out there and to be selected is great. I'm looking forward to it and hopefully I can go out there and have a good showing and have some fun."

A catcher at North Lenoir High School, Capps blossomed into a dominant pitcher in two seasons in a Trojans' uniform after redshirting in 2009. He set an NCAA Division II Baseball record with 24 consecutive wins, including the first-ever nine-inning no-hitter in Mount Olive history.

Capps was drafted by Seattle with the 121st pick in the 2011 Major League Baseball draft. Initially a set-up man with Jackson, Capps has transitioned with ease into the closer's role after former closer Stephen Pryor was promoted to Triple-A and then called up to Seattle.

Capps has surrendered just one run in his last 12 outings and has tallied 51 strikeouts in 33 2/3 innings of work. His slider and changeup continue to progress under the tutelage of pitching coach Lance Painter. Painter, a former Major League reliever, has worked with Capps on developing confidence to throw his secondary pitches in any situation.

"I would say my confidence in those pitches is at an 80 right now," Capps said. "Hopefully I can get it to 100 soon. Sometimes you know a guy is trying to cheat on your fastball and if you throw something else it doesn't have to be located perfectly as long as you keep it down in the zone."

Working out of the bullpen provides Capps with the opportunity to build on a solid outing from the night before or put a shaky appearance behind him. During his time as a starter with the Trojans, waiting nearly a week to take the mound again could make forgetting a rough start difficult.

"When you have a bad game you want to get back on the horse as soon as possible," Capps said. "Those five days can seem like a long time to wait as a starter. Coming out of the bullpen you don't really have to pace yourself and you can just pound the strike zone and attack guys."

His fastball is easy to miss and his appearances are often short but Carter Capps seems destined for a long, successful career.