King George senior pitcher Damion Carroll, whose jokey demeanor and quirky ways tend to draw an audience, had his teammates’ rapt attention again Tuesday afternoon on a bus ride to Powhatan for a Virginia AA quarterfinal.
Carroll got the news that he and the Foxes had been awaiting all season: He had been drafted, by the Tampa Bay Rays, in the sixth round, with the 212th pick. He put the congratulatory call from the Rays on speakerphone for all to hear.
“The bus was quiet,” Carroll said by phone amid considerable background hubbub as the team neared Powhatan. “I started yelling. Everybody, not just me.”
Carroll is a 6-foot-4 right-hander with a 92 mph fastball and a lanky frame that could fill out in pro ball or at San Jacinto (Tex.) Junior College, where he has committed to play if he cannot come to terms with the Rays.
Carroll was scheduled to pitch in the game at Powhatan and said he has not yet fully considered his options with the news so fresh. He said the Rays had shown mild interest and were one of the dozen or so teams to send scouts to visit him at his home but he was surprised that they turned out to be the team to draft him.
“I really didn’t care who took me as long as I can go out there trying to do my best playing baseball,” Carroll said.
The signing bonus for sixth-round picks this season is between $155,000 and $170,000, far less than what his father, Virgil Holmes, said a few weeks ago that it would take to sign Carroll.
If he develops, Carroll could be drafted in a higher round out of San Jacinto, where Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte both pitched.
Asked if it might be difficult to focus on pitching Tuesday night after learning the good news, Carroll said no way. His coaches and teammates have said that he has been unfazed this season by all the scouts who have lined the backstop evaluating him.
“Nope, not even be hard, man,” Carroll said. “I’m excited now for game time.”