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Capps’ arm(s) loaded for Generals’ staff

Capps’ arm(s) loaded for Generals’ staff

By BILL SORRELL
Special to The Messenger
JACKSON — Carter Capps may give his left arm to be in professional baseball, but not his right.
“It’s definitely an opportunity everybody wants. To be drafted, I was very blessed. People would give their left arms for things like this,” said Capps, a relief pitcher for the Jackson Generals.
It is Capps’ right arm that throws 101 mph fastballs, makes him a Southern League All-Star and propels the Generals to the league’s best ERA (3.11) and best record.
Capps is also using his right arm as a tool to prove people wrong. Mt. Olive (N.C.) College, a member of NCAA Division 2, was the only school to offer a scholarship after his graduation from North Lenoir High School.
At Mt. Olive, he set a Division 2 record with 24 straight wins, 10-0 in 2010 and 14-1 in 2011. He pitched the first nine-inning no-hitter in school history on March 12, 2011 against Coker. He was the 2011 Division 2 National Pitcher of the Year, a first team All-American and the ABCA National Player of the Year.
When Seattle chose Capps, who grew up in Kinston, N.C., as the 121st pick in the third round of the 2011 Major League Baseball Draft, he was the highest draft pick in Mt. Olive history.
In Jackson, he is 2-3 with a 1.47 ERA and 15 saves. His fastball was clocked at 101 mph in a series against Pensacola in early May and is consistently in triple-digits.
“You don’t see a lot of guys who throw like that and have that stuff he has, especially for a guy who has only been pitching a couple of years. For him to be that lights-out is just dynamic,” said Jackson outfielder Joe Dunnigan. “You can get pretty confident when he is out there that he is going to get those three outs. He’s explosive. It’s pretty impressive.”
One of Capps’ strengths is his work ethic.
“I’m not really that much different than anybody else. I try every day to push myself and get better. I don’t want to take any steps back; that is my main goal. By the end of the season, you have gotten a lot better by being a little better every day. I was raised with the mentality to go after what you want.”
Jackson pitcher Forrest Snow said that mound presence and attitude are vital for “the guy that saves the game. He has all the makings of a big-league closer.”
To get to the major leagues, Capps trusts himself and God.
“Hard work and trying to be a Christian every day can get you anything,” he said. “Knowing Jesus and that He is going to protect me and keep me strong maybe gives me an extra edge.”
Raised by Christian parents Mark and Pam Capps, he grew up in the Methodist church. His late grandfather Clingman Capps was a Methodist minister.
“It was a good foundation to build off of,” he said.
At Mt. Olive, sponsored by the Convention of Original Free Will Baptists, Capps saw baseball coach Carl Lancaster more than anyone.
He called Lancaster and professors “all upstanding Christians. It was a great environment there.”
Two years ago Capps was baptized at Westside Free Will Baptist Church in Kinston.
“It wasn’t like a big revival. I don’t know any different. I was born in the South, the Bible Belt.”
As he encounters the daily struggles of minor league baseball, he reads the Bible, prays and attends Baseball Chapel. “That is a great thing,” he said.
Those disciplines have helped him be an influence as well as overcome temptations.
“You pray to keep on the course. I try not to stray too far from the path that Jesus set. Acting the right way and trying to help others in the same beliefs, I am blessed to know Him and His sacrifice,” said Capps, 21.
“Obviously Jesus was perfect. Nobody is going to be a perfect Christian. You can do what you want to do but you will be judged for it. I’m no Tim Tebow, but any good role model is good these days. There are a lot of negative ones. Hopefully I am not going to be here (in Double-A baseball) forever but if I am, I can influence as many people as I can. Anybody I can help is a plus.”
Jackson catcher Ralph Henriquez said Capps is positive.
“You see him every day being positive and working hard. He goes about his business really well. He is just a great guy. He is happy.’
You can’t ever tell that he is having a bad day. He lives on faith. He depends on God.”
Said Snow, “He’s awesome. I couldn’t say a bad thing about him.”
Most hitters have a bad day when facing Capps. He has struck out 63 in 43 innings while allowing a .210 batting average.
Not only is he using fastballs, but secondary pitches like curve balls to find spots that batters can’t handle.
“Guys look like they have no chance against him,” said Jackson outfielder Chris Pettit. “It is so entertaining to play behind him, especially when he is throwing strikes.”
Offense is what backed up Capps (6-5, 220 pounds) at Mt. Olive he said. When he gave up runs he didn’t worry about it. Defense also came through. The Trojans were 2008 Division 2 national champions and have made 16 NCAA tournament appearances.
Capps was a 2011 CoSIDA/Capital One Academic All-American with a 3.57 GPA while majoring in environmental science. During the off-season when he returns to North Carolina he likes to hunt and fish.
This season, the next step is Tacoma, the Mariners’ triple-A affiliate.
“You can’t anticipate anything. People above me are making decisions,” he said. “If they tell me to go up, I’ll go up. If they tell me to stay down, I’ll stay down. Anything else is out of my control. I know God has a plan.”

Published in The Messenger 7.11.12

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