Carl Thomore's baseball career began like everyone else's--a few practices during the week, a game on Saturday and then, if he was lucky, maybe pizza and a trophy at the end of the season.
Now a high school senior on the verge of what could be a long professional baseball career, Carl's routine has changed only slightly--practice every night during the week, games whenever they're scheduled and, if he's lucky, a shot at a Major League Baseball career.
"There's a surplus of kids who are ultra talented, but he's got a passion for it. He can do it all, everything you want somebody to do--run, hit, throw, catch--but he's a focused kid and wants to be a big leaguer," said Mike Garlatti, a Northeast Regional scout for the Colorado Rockies and owner of Baseball Warehouse in Highland Park, just one of the facilities Carl uses throughout the year to train.
Carl Thomore has been playing baseball since he was 5 and, if things go his way, he'll be playing it until has 5 year olds of his own. A member of the East Brunswick High School varsity squad, Carl has been scouted by 23 Major League Baseball teams, including the Philadelphia Phillies and New York Yankees, worked out for nine of them and hopes to be drafted during the MLB draft in June.
"It's so awesome," the centerfielder said one Monday evening between batting practices at the Baseball Warehouse. "I'm seeing all my hard work pay off. It's not a dream. This is reality. Hopefully, I'll be one of them, and I can look and carry myself like that."
In the past year alone, Carl has been selected to play with top prospect and developmental league teams, including the NJ Twins, the East Coast Pro Showcase Team and the News York Yankees Area Code Team. Most recently, Carl was named to the Rawlings/Perfect Game Preseason All American and All Northeast Regional High School Senior 1st Team, and all that's in addition to training at the Baseball Warehouse, where he works under the watchful eye of several trainers, including Garlatti. Carl also had committed to play for Rutgers University next year, but changed his mind after receiving so much pro attention.
"There were eight to 12 scouts at every game last year," said his dad, Ken.
Carl played in North Edison as a youngster before heading into the travel program and eventually settling back in East Brunswick, where he has played since he was a freshmen. Carl is described by his coaches as a five-tool player, which means he can hit for average, hit for power, has strong base-running skills and speed, a great arm and is an excellent fielder. While people started to notice his skill set in eighth grade, not everything has come naturally.
Carl's ability and success are a result of years of dedication, hard work and desire. Even now he has to work harder than others. After suffering an ankle injury during a game last year, Carl has spent almost all of his spare time rehabbing, batting and practicing, and that's when he's not going to school, visiting his girlfriend or playing "Call of Duty." In fact, the injury not only ended his season last year, but forced him to missed a Varsity Basketball season in which the Bears made it to the second round of State Championship play.
"He's a rare talent, you don't find too many people that can battle back from an injury," said Steve Bucchignano, an instructor and Carl's fall ball coach. "His personal work ethic and drive is what sets him apart from the others. I don't think he'll ever lose it. He wants it too much."
While Carl's coaches spend time talking about him, Carl is quick to talk about others, such as his mother, who died five years ago following a fight with breast cancer. It was his last promise to her that he wouldn't stop until he lived his dream.
"I promised her she'd see me on a big league team," he said quietly.
"When I was 8 years old, my mom was my biggest fan. She took me to everything," he said. "When I hit my first homerun, it was a grand slam, my mom met me at home plate."
He also is mindful of his father, who has always known just when to push him, how to motivate him, and how to help him along whenever he needs it.
"Baseball is my priority, and my dad's been good with that," said Carl. "He was never too hard on me, he would look back and just point. He'd tell me when I did good, and tell me when I did bad."
But no matter what lies ahead, Carl says he's ready for it, and he knows that baseball will always be in his future, regardless if it starts in the pros or college. But for now, he can rest assured that he's well on the path to meeting his dream, and keeping his promise to his mother.
"I want to play baseball, I doesn't matter where," he said.