L-R: Lawson Zenner, Sam Carlson, John Price at PG Tournament in Arizona
Sam Carlson, a two-way phenom and a 2017 graduate of Burnsville High School, has verbally committed to the University of Florida. Carlson becomes one of seven (as of 12.28.15) Blizzard players to verbally commit this year in a talent-loaded class that has seen more early Blizzard commits than ever before.
Carlson, who is a right-handed pitcher who can run it up to 91-92 but sits at a comfortable 84-87mph with a good slider and a change up that is reminiscent of a former Blizzard player who is at Florida now - Logan Shore.
Shore, who was a 2013 grad, is the Friday night starter for the Gators and is projected to be a first-round pick in the 2016 MLB draft. Shore got a chance to see Carlson throw in the ScoutStop August Select this past summer and was impressed.
"Everything I have seen from Sam has been great," Shore said. "He is exceptionally talented, has character, work ethic, does the right thing and is very humble."
Both played for the Chicago White Sox Area Code team in Long Beach, California as underclassman, played in some summer tournaments (WWBA 17u National Championship) put on by Perfect Game as well as competing in some professional workouts in Kansas City.
"I know he will do everything he can to get the most out of his opportunity as a Gator," Shore said. "It will be nice to watch another Minnesota and Blizzard guy play for the Orange and Blue. I am excited to see what he accomplishes when he gets down to Gainsville."
However, Carlson may have one-upped Shore. Carlson can HIT. An above-average runner (6.8 60 yard dash), a plus arm and good range in the outfield, Carlson could find himself pulling double time in a program that typically doesn't have two-way players. Whatever the case may be, Carlson is entering a program in 2017 that began this year as the #1 ranked team in the country.
We sat down with Carlson ran through a quick Q and A about his time with the Blizzard, some of his favorite tournaments, memories and some advice to younger players.
Where did you first hear about the Blizzard?
I first heard about Blizzard from my neighbor across the street named (Minnesota Gopher) Tyler Hanson. He also played Blizzard at the time and was a really good resource for me. Tryouts were intimidating since there were kids like Jordan Schramel who hit five BP home runs and I knew nobody else at the time.
What is it like playing teams around the country?
It was a lot more competitive since we play in Perfect Game tournaments against kids who will be in the draft in a couple of years. It is just an experience you don't get when you live in Minnesota.
What was one of your favorite Blizzard tournaments?
Atlanta, GA (WWBA 17u National Championship) this summer was definitely my favorite tournament. We went 6-0 in pool play and were the first Blizzard team to ever advance to bracket play. It was a week long tournament and was extremely fun.
What Blizzard coaches helped you most along the way?
My summer coach this year, Joe Loftus, as well as, Adam Barta, stood out to me the most. Loftus was a great resource for me because I am going to be playing at a school similar to the one he played at (Vanderbilt) so he could give me advice whenever since he has been through it.
Adam Barta has helped me develop as a player so much. Most importantly, he walked me through the recruiting process and helped me out whenever necessary. It is very important to have someone on your side like Adam during the process.
Where has a lot of your exposure come from?
All of my exposure has been from the Blizzard. Every school who came to watch me came to my Blizzard tournaments. The tournaments were all of the exposure for me. This summer in Atlanta was where the school I am going to saw me, thanks to the Blizzard.
What is one of your favorite memories as a Blizzard player?
My favorite memory from Blizzard was either getting to play with Eze who came from the Dominican Republic recently or when Eric Holloman exploded our microwave with an Oreo.
Why did you choose Florida?
I chose the University of Florida for many reasons. One of the main reasons is when I went on my visits, something felt right at UF. I just felt like it was a place I wanted to be at for the next couple of years. I wanted to be apart of a great program that was extremely competitive. Another part of it was the fact that I felt like it was a place where I could develop as a player. Lastly the coaches and weather down at UF are ideal for any baseball player. Those are some of my many reasons for choosing UF.
What is a piece of advice you could give to younger players about the recruiting process?
Be active. Start calling coaches as soon as possible. Develop positive relationships with a lot of people because they can have great connections. Lastly, be the hardest worker out there. The winter before my sophomore season I was at the Cages for 4 hours after school every day because I wanted to go to my dream school (UF) so badly. Scouts will notice this kind of stuff.