'There's only 24 hours in the day': Kyle Carter on second chances

dmitchell@ledger-enquirer.comOctober 30, 2013 

Columbus High's Kyle Carter answers question after the team's championship win on May 28, 2012.

MIKE HASKEY — mhaskey@ledger-enquirer.com

Kyle Carter doesn't live in a box.

He knows his name is associated as much with the negativity surrounding his unceremonious departure from the University of Georgia as the positivity that came with being a youth and high school baseball star in Columbus.

For years, his name conjured memories of the city's exciting win at the 2006 Little League World Series or Columbus High's three straight state titles from 2010-12.

He was a nationally ranked high school player, had earned a scholarship to play ball for the Bulldogs and seemed destined for professional baseball in a few short years.

Two arrests in his first semester resulted in his departure from Georgia, and his future seemed unclear.

That is in the past, though, Carter said recently.

Declining to speak more than a couple of words about the events that brought him to Miami-Dade Junior College in Florida, Carter instead focused on his growth on and off the field and expressed appreciation for the people who kept his dream of playing baseball alive.

A second chance

Carter never dreamed he'd be in Miami for his second year of college baseball. If he was, maybe he'd be a Hurricane, but certainly not a Shark.

After the arrests in Athens -- once for underage possession of alcohol and once for possession of a weapon in a school zone -- he was in need of a second chance.

Enter Danny Price, head baseball coach at Dade Junior College.

"I came down here, and it was awesome," Carter said of the immediate impact Price had on him. "All coaches want to win, but he really cares about the academic side and he's opened my eyes to the character side, too -- being the best person you can be.

"He told me when I came down here that I was going to help him and he was going to help me, and he says he can tell the difference."

If there's one thing Price helped him learn, Carter said, it was that his abilities on the baseball field aren't as rare a commodity as they may have seemed in high school, and any mistake, on or off the field, can separate a player from the thousands of other talented stars around the country.

"There's a lot of Kyle Carters out there," Carter said. "With the Major Leagues, if you mess up, they'll look right by you. I'm fortunate to have another chance. It's a gift from God to have another chance. I just have to make the best of it."

Taking advantage

So far, he's doing a good job.

On the field, he played great in his first season with the Sharks, though an injury held him out for 20 games in 2013. He batted .382 in 76 at-bats, hitting two home runs and driving in 19. On the mound, he managed to throw only eight innings in four appearances, but he did earn a win and a save, while striking out seven batters and notching a 0.00 earned run average.

With a full season in front of him, his final junior college campaign, Carter said he's excited about the opportunity to impress scouts and either earn a scholarship to a Division-I program or, perhaps, get selected in the next Major League draft in June 2014.

"This is my last year in junior college, and I hope the draft is going to work out for me," he said. "If it doesn't, then I can go back to a four-year school. I've had a couple watch me and spoke with a couple. It's still early."

He said Price has spoken some with Miami and Maine -- "just a couple schools here and there." Mostly, though, scouts want to watch the coming season before making an assessment.

"You have a lot of scouts at practices," he said. "You look up and see that these guys are all watching everyone's move. You have to bust your butt and impress them, or they'll move on to the next person."

Man in the mirror

Carter is doing everything he can to make sure that doesn't happen, including taking advantage of the resources he has at Dade College.

One such resource arrived at practice not too long ago. Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez, fresh off an impressive rookie campaign, gave some words of advice to the players.

"He spoke mainly about hard work," Carter said. "He started out in high school, he said, throwing only 84 (miles per hour). Every so often, he'd write a number two or three miles per hour harder on his mirror. Now, the number on his mirror is 100."

It inspired Carter to do the same.

"Every day, I wake up and, just like he did, put on my mirror '92,'" he said.

He also has a couple inspirational quotes and Bible verses that help him focus. And he can see himself, who he is and who he wants to be.

"It's a reminder that there's only 24 hours in the day and you sleep some of them," Carter said. "You get your academics done, and then it's time for baseball. In the last month, I think I've taken one day off, and that's because coach made me."

He's still young and has plenty of time to establish what his legacy will be among the many athletic stars who came from the Bi-City area.

He hopes the negative side of it, the criminal charges that are still pending, becomes nothing more than a memory.

For now, he's focused on baseball, his life and how to improve at both.

"We've got 115 days until the season starts," he said Oct. 24. "I'm just excited for the future."

Related stories:

Former Little League, Columbus High star Kyle Carter opts to leave University of Georgia

Update: Former Little League star Kyle Carter says he's 'not worried' about felony charge

Chuck Williams: Bad decisions lead to tough consequences for Phillips, Carter

David Mitchell, Follow David on Twitter@leprepsports or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ledgerenquirersports.

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