Smiths Station’s Carson Swilling said he’s always dreamed of pitching in a Major League Baseball stadium. On Saturday, Swilling saw that dream come true.
Swilling pitched a scoreless inning in the Cleveland Indians’ Progressive Field during the first-ever MLB High School All-Star Game. Swilling, who at one point hit 93 miles per hour on the radar gun, did his part for a National League club that fell to the American League 4-2.
“I’ve been pitching for a little over a year now. I started last summer.”— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) July 2, 2019
Carson Swilling is new to pitching, but you'd hardley be able to tell if you watched him in #PDPL19, where he struck out three over two scoreless innings today: https://t.co/zFFGYxGHis pic.twitter.com/3YBmL4ObBu
Swilling’s opportunity to play in the All-Star game came at the end of a wild three weeks for the rising senior.
Swilling was one of 80 high school players selected to participate in the Prospect Development Pipeline (PDP) League in which up-and-coming baseball players show off their skills and are instructed by the likes of Chipper Jones, Derek Jeter, Barry Larkin and Ryan Howard. The players competed in Bradenton, Florida, before the rosters were whittled down to 40 people for the All-Star teams.
Swilling’s play on Team Larkin was good enough to earn a spot on the National League team, which set up Saturday’s big moment on the mound.
“The past three weeks have definitely been a grind. Being down there with the best talent for three-and-a-half weeks, it really shows you who you are. Learning from some of the game's best really helped out as well,” Swilling said. “It was an incredible experience. Being in an All-Star game on top of that with only 40 kids was incredible.”
Swilling is fresh off a junior season in which he hit .367 for Smiths Station and also had two home runs, 27 RBIs and 15 stolen bases. He also got a chance to pitch for the Panthers, throwing 9.0 innings with four saves, 15 strikeouts and a 1.00 ERA.
Smiths Station head coach Mike Ferry was especially proud that Swilling was not a highly-touted prospect yet earned his spot among the nation’s best players. Swilling may still be green as far as pitching is concerned, but Ferry explained it’s no secret that the Auburn University commit has something special in his right arm.
“Carson does work hard, but he's also been blessed with an arm that not everybody has,” Ferry said. “He's got an arm that can throw with elite velocity. He can throw in the 90's, which not a lot of kids his age do consistently. It's only going to get better as he matures and gets older and stronger.”
Swilling’s last few weeks have been incredible, but he’s not done just yet.
Swilling and the other 39 All-Stars will fly out to Los Angeles for the 2019 18U National Team trials Aug. 13-17. After the trials, the 20 remaining players will represent the United States in the 2019 World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) U-18 Baseball World Cup in Gijang City, South Korea, from Aug. 30-Sept. 8.
The last month of baseball has been a bit surreal for Swilling, but he’s not lost sight of what he needs to do. He recognizes the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity he’s been given, and he’s eager to put in the work to make even more dreams come true.
“For me, I just try to humble myself and still work,” Swilling said. “To be with some of the best just makes your confidence go up. You've got to remember where you came from as well.
“I'm not a big flight guy, but I'll do it for Team USA for sure.”