COLLEGEVILLE — It’s not exactly Yankee Stadium or Wrigley Field, but these days Jordan Carter is enjoying his baseball digs at Eastwood Field in Niles, Ohio., home of the Mahoning Valley Scrappers.
That’s primarily because Mahoning Valley just happens to be the Cleveland Indians’ affiliate in the New York-Penn League.
And as of last week, when the Indians called out Carter’s name in the 22nd round of the Major League Baseball draft, Carter is a professional baseball player, and property of the team that made the movie, “Major League” famous.
Carter, a product of Methacton High, the Perkiomen Valley Twilight League’s Collegeville franchise and Saint Joseph’s University, said his draft day experience was a dream come true. But he didn’t anticipate a call from Cleveland.
“I was hoping I’d get a shot with some team, but I really didn’t think it would be the Indians,” the pitcher said. “The only time I heard from the Indians was when I got a questionnaire from them in the mail.”
Like most draft hopefuls, Carter spent his draft day trying not to dwell on his draft day.
“I was kind of trying not to think about it too much,” he said. “I was listening on MLB.com, they were announcing each pick as it happened, and trying not to get too high or too low.”
The telephone rang, and when he answered, Carter was speaking to a representative from the Cleveland Indians.
“It happened five minutes before I got drafted,” Carter said. “I was asked if I would be ready to go if I got drafted by the Indians,” Carter said. “There were no promises, they didn’t tell me I would be chosen by them. I said, ‘Absolutely.’
“My name came up two picks later. It was a really awesome, incredible experience.”
It was also an experience that didn’t seem likely a year ago when Carter had a less-than-stellar season at Saint Joseph’s.
The right-hander finished the year with a 3-5 record and a 4.63 ERA, hardly the numbers heard in connection with an MLB draft selection.
But Carter turned things around in his senior year.
“I think a lot of it was maturing as a player,” he said. “At Saint Joseph’s, we lost our best pitcher, Kyle Mullen, and I felt someone had to fill his shoes. I wanted to be what Kyle was, a senior leader.”
So Carter went to work on his mound work.
“I put in a lot of hard work,” he said. “The biggest thing was developing three pitches I could throw for strikes, and using both sides of the plate. That was the biggest thing, being able to use both sides of the plate.”
The work paid off. And by season’s end, Carter had a 10-4 record, becoming the first Hawks pitcher to reach double-figure wins in a season, a 2.45 ERA and 81 strikeouts and just 14 walks in 95.2 innings of work. His opponents managed a paltry .220 average against him.
Carter was named the Atlantic 10 Pitcher of the Year and the Big 5 Pitcher of the Year.
And he became a draftable pitcher.
“I had such a great year,” he said. “I’m happy I was also able to get my degree, too, which is a good thing. It all worked out. I’m happy and ready to play baseball.
“There have been some tough times, I’ve gone though some adversity, but it’s helped me to enjoy and to cherish the good times.”
And the good times have already begun.
Carter is now living with a host family in Niles, preparing for his professional debut, with the Scrappers first game set for June 13.
He is without an agent, which he claims is the way it’s done these days.
“From what I’ve been told, you really don’t need one until you get to high (Class) A ball,” he said. “Unless you’re a college junior or a high school player going in the first few rounds, the only thing an agent can do for you is take your money.”
Carter said he is a candidate for the Scrappers rotation, but the organization is in no rush to push a heavy workload on young pitchers who are coming off college seasons in which they’ve thrown 90 or more innings.
“They don’t want to overwork us,” Carter said.
The pitcher said he thoroughly enjoyed his time in the Perky League.
“I made a lot of friends, and the baseball was really competitive,” Carter said. “I was able to pitch, get my work in and it was good baseball.”
Carter also tipped his hat to his alma mater.
“I thank Paul Spiewak for a lot of my success,” Carter said of the Methacton head baseball coach. “He was a great coach, a great pitching coach and you can see how good he is with what he’s done with the Methacton program.
“They won the district, went deep into states. It’s nice to see it all going well for him.”
As for his impending professional debut, Carter has just the feelings one would expect.
“I’m nervous and excited,” he said. “I threw a little bit today (June 11) and it felt great. It’s such a blessing and I’m so happy to be here. It’s nice to know there’s still some time in my baseball career.
“I know I’ll have butterflies until I get on the mound, but they’ll be good butterflies.”
PERKY JERKY: Carter was one of three Perky alumni to get the call in the draft. Kennedy-Kenrick graduate and University of Pittsburgh product Joe Harvey, who pitched for Skippack for a season, was drafted in the 19th round by the New York Yankees, and Archbishop Wood and Rutgers University product Brian O’Grady, who played for a part of a season with Lansdale, was taken in the eighth round by the Cincinnati Reds.