ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Basking in more than 19 hours of sunshine, the Anchorage Glacier Pilots were preparing for a summer-league doubleheader Tuesday when West Virginia pitcher Sean Carley spoke with the crew at MetroNews Statewide “Sportsline.”
Despite sitting out the past two seasons — one because of Tommy John surgery, one under NCAA transfer rules when he left Air Force for WVU — Carley sounded amped about pitching for the Mountaineers in 2014. His plans weren’t altered by the San Diego Padres selecting him in the 34th round of the MLB draft this weekend.
“No, absolutely not,” Carley said. “My goal coming into WVU was to pitch in the Big 12.
“I wanted to get WVU baseball back on track — that’s the goal myself and some of the other guys had – and I feel like we’re one step closer. We had a great season and I feel like all the pieces are starting to come together for a great season next year.”
Carley had become the ace at Air Force, where his 3.93 ERA in 2011 was the best for a Falcons pitcher since 1983. But then he tore the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow mere days before the 2012 opener, and upon heading home to Melbourne, Fla., to rehab the arm, Carley rethought the five-year service stint that awaits academy graduates. After opting to transfer, he contacted new WVU coach Randy Mazey, who while assisting at TCU had seen Carley pitch in Mountain West action.
Carley came with Mazey to Morgantown and said the surgically repaired elbow felt lively last fall, helping his fastball typically range between 92 and 95 mph. It even touched 97 mph on occasion, the kind of pop that has the 6-foot-4 junior “looking forward to coming out next season and blowing out some radar guns and blowing it by some Big 12 opponents.”
As he works toward developing a two-seam pitch this summer, Carley admitted he has glimpsed toward next spring, when he’ll presumably challenge Big 12 pitcher of the year Harrison Musgrave for the role of WVU’s Friday night starter. (Musgrave was chosen in the 33rd round by the Phillies, one of five WVU players drafted.)
“Harrison’s a great guy and we’ve had some conversations about what would be best for us — whether he’s on the Friday night bump or whether I’m on the Friday night bump,” Carley said. “I think a lot’s going to have to do with who we’ve got going on Sunday, and whether we want to go with a righty-lefty-righty matchup, which would put me on Friday, or a lefty-righty-lefty matchup, which would put me on Saturday.
“But the end result is we’re just trying to win a series, and having both of us out there, it’s a great problem to have.”
Carley was relegated to cheerleader this past season when WVU bucked its last-place projections to finished third in the Big 12 regular-season standings. The Mountaineers also finished third in the conference tournament, narrowly missing a chance to play for the championship and the automatic NCAA bid.
“(Third place) was a decent standing but no one was satisfied, so we’ve set the bar really high for next season,” Carley said. “I think we’re going to have a really, really solid team. We’ve got a lot of returning talent and we’ve got a tremendous amount of talent coming in. If I’m a Mountaineer fan I’m pumped for next season.”