One of the more interesting sleepers in the Royals’ low minors could be Carlo Testa. Drafted in the 18th round out of Belmont last year, the big outfielder put together a solid debut season with the Idaho Falls Chukars. Combining good tools across the board with a solid, disciplined approach at the plate, the 22-year old could be a player to watch closely this year.
Prior to joining the Royals’ organization, Carlo Testa was a standout two-way player at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee. In 2008, Testa hit .387/.479/.585 with a team-best eight triples and 26 stolen bases (in 33 attempts), and he went 6-3 on the mound while leading the Bruins in victories, innings pitched, and strikeouts. For his efforts, he was named to the Atlantic Sun All Conference first team as both a starting pitcher and outfielder, the first time that happened in the conference’s history. Testa’s stellar year was capped in June when he was selected by the Royals in the 18th round of the 2008 draft.
His selection marked the second straight year the Royals grabbed a Belmont outfielder. In the 2007 draft, the Royals took Wilson Tucker in the 33rd round. In a conversation with RC, Testa spoke fondly of his former Belmont teammate, who was a junior when Testa arrived on campus.
“He’s a great guy,” said Testa. “He taught me a lot when he was there, and we were sad to have him go.”
Testa began his professional career with an assignment to the Burlington Royals in the rookie-level Appalachian League. He played sparingly, getting just 16 at bats in seven games before being reassigned to Idaho Falls a couple of weeks into the season.
Testa joined the Chukars in early July
Once in Idaho, Testa began playing nearly every day, but he struggled to adjust to the professional game. In July, he hit just a shade above .200, and his average was hovering around the Mendoza line when August arrived. Testa said he initially had trouble relaxing and getting comfortable at the plate, and it took him some time to adjust to using wood bats.
“I never did have a full season playing with a wood bat, so that was a huge difference,” said Testa.
When August finally arrived, Testa went on a tear. He hit nearly .370 on the month with an on-base percentage north of .440, and by the time the season ended in early September, Testa had improved his overall line to .304/.395/.462. After hitting just three home runs during his final season at Belmont, Testa clubbed five round-trippers with the Chukars, and he stole 12 bases in 16 attempts. When asked about his turnaround, Testa said it really just boiled down to getting used to the daily grind of professional baseball.
“Once I got comfortable playing every day and seeing live pitching every day, it started slowing the game down, and I started getting hits here and there,” said Testa.
Testa torched Pioneer League pitching in August
Testa offers an interesting mix of speed and strength. At 6-foot-3, 218 pounds, he already has a Major League body, and he flashes good power during batting practice. He uses the whole field, and the majority of his hits (and home runs) in 2008 were to either left field or center. He runs the bases well, and the arm strength he developed as a pitcher in college should yield him a good outfield arm in the professional ranks. This spring, the Royals are giving Testa time at all three outfield positions.
“I think that’s going to help me, because I can fill in wherever I’m needed,” said Testa. “I’m just working on getting comfortable at all three positions, and getting good reads because the ball moves differently off that bat depending on where you’re at.”
When asked if there were any Major Leaguers he models his game after, the Ohio native had a quick answer.
“I really like Grady Sizemore,” said Testa. “I love his style of play – how aggressive he is, how he’s 100 percent all the time. And body wise, I guess I’m kind of the same as him. He’s not the fastest, he doesn’t have the best arm, but his determination and heart fills in the gaps. I try to model myself after him.”
Testa is working on all three outfield positions this spring
Testa, a graduate of Tallmadge High School in the Akron suburbs, is not the KC farm system’s only outfield prospect from Ohio, nor is he alone in his admiration for the Indians’ center fielder. Before attending Mercyhurst College in Pennsylvania, David Lough graduated from Green High School, just 10 miles down the road from Tallmadge, and he too models his game after Sizemore’s. Testa elaborated on his friendly rivalry with Lough, although the two try not to talk too much about baseball.
“It’s even deeper than that. I played against David Lough in baseball and football. His high school and mine were rivals – it was a huge high school rivalry. We all got dressed up for it, and it was fun. We talk about that. We try to stay away from the baseball thing because we’re around baseball all the time. So we talk about how crappy Ohio weather is, and Ohio State and things like that.”