Matt Carpenter: Overcoming the Odds

From toddler to MLB star, Matt Carpenter has always had baseball on his mind. Growing up in Texas, he would spend long nights hitting into a net and playing catch with his father, who coached him in high school. His development resulted in a second-team All-American selection and an appearance in the USA TODAY Prep National Championship, which then led to a scholarship at baseball powerhouse, Texas Christian University (TCU). You would think his pedigree and passion for the game would have guaranteed him a top spot in the MLB Draft, but that was not the case. Despite Carpenter’s overall impressive resume, there were 398 players selected ahead of him in the 2009 MLB Draft.

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While at TCU, Carpenter hit a roadblock that would deter him from sniffing a chance at the majors, unless a dramatic change was made. His marginal draft stock was attributed to his poor season as a junior. He began that year batting .185, and to make matters worse, he needed season-ending Tommy John Surgery to repair a blown-out elbow. During his recovery he opted not to stay in shape, expanding his weight to 240 pounds. His coach, Jim Schlossnagle, noticed Carpenter’s lack of commitment and lectured him into changing his work ethic. Carpenter took Schlossnagle’s advice and made it a personal ultimatum.

A change of Character allowed him to get back on track, losing 40 pounds in the process and putting up the numbers to be drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals. If Carpenter was not on the field, he was in the weight room. He was reborn and vowed never to return to his lackadaisical, overweight self by pushing his body to new limits. He continues to apply his work ethic to his professional career by being the first one to the game, arriving before the coaches to refine his swing and versatility in the infield.

Before Carpenter was the All-Star he is today, he had to work his way up through the minor leagues after being drafted. Carpenter carried over his values that got him selected by the Cardinals and did everything he could to reach the highest level where only the best survive. However, he could only do so much to improve while training at a local high school. Opportunity would come knocking when Carpenter’s father told him he would be coaching the son of 5-time All-Star Torii Hunter. It had come to Hunter’s attention that Carpenter had been drafted, and soon after the former TCU prospect was invited to train at an elite training facility.

In order to attend, however, it would cost $1,000 a week. At the time, Carpenter could not have afforded one session because his signing bonus was worth just $1,000 before taxes. That would ultimately not matter, though, as Hunter’s connection to Carpenter via the former’s son meant Carpenter would be welcome to use the training space as he wished. From 2009-2011, Carpenter would hone his craft alongside Hunter, and eventually the hard work would pay off and earn Carpenter a spring training invite.

Carpenter took advantage of each major league opportunity he was given and finally solidified his spot on the Cardinals roster in 2012. During his first full MLB season, he hit .294. His strong start was followed by an All-Star season, in which he led the National League in hits, doubles, and runs. Originally signed for $1,000, in 2014 he signed a $52 million contract extension over six years. Carpenter never forgets how he got to the majors. To remind himself, he teaches what he learned to rookies and has an annual baseball camp for youth grades 1-8. Carpenter is a true Role Model for anyone who is facing an arduous battle toward achieving their goals.

 

Follow Matt Carpenter on Instagram @mattcarpenter13 and Twitter @MattCarp13

Follow the writer Bryan Jung on Instagram @jungb_4_3 and Twitter @jmula15

Posted 14 June 2016