We all have our own dreams and aspirations, and most of the time, our family are our biggest supporters. They’ll cheer us on, lift us up, help us get back on our feet when we get knocked down, and make the necessary sacrifices to ensure that we are in the best position possible to reach our goals.
Sadly, that’s not the case for 23-year-old first baseman Christian Carmouche. Pursuing his dream to play professional baseball has been a long, winding road for him. From not making his baseball team in college to nearly going broke from spending money traveling to different cities all over the country to try out for teams.
“I can recall times I went without eating to save money to travel,” Carmouche said, “and over drafting my debit card to have the gas to make it to the tryouts. I sold personal items such as my own cell phone, my television, my shoes, and gaming systems. I’ve also lost the support and what seems to be the love of my family, all for my love and passion for baseball.”
Carmouche’s parents do not like the idea of him trying to play pro ball. They’ve often told him he wasn’t good enough and he would never succeed no matter how hard he tried. They believe it’s all a waste of his time. As you could imagine, they weren’t exactly thrilled when Carmouche told them he recently received a spring training invitation from the Las Cruces Vaqueros of the Pecos League.
Carmouche grew up in Beaumont, Texas – a town about 90 miles east of Houston. Growing up in Beaumont had a great impact on his decision to pursue a career in baseball given that most people in the town played sports. Like many kids, he played multiple sports such as basketball and soccer but baseball was what he excelled in and loved the most.
Carmouche attended Central Medical Magnet High School from 2006 to 2010. He played first base and was a designated hitter for the school’s junior varsity and varsity teams during his freshman and sophomore years. He earned a spot as the starting first baseman in his junior and senior years. After graduating from high school, he attended Prairie View A&M University from 2010 to 2012 on a band scholarship. While there, he tried out for the baseball team but didn’t make it.
“The impact (being in band) had on my baseball career was major,” Carmouche said. “I had to focus more on band because we traveled and it demanded a lot of time. So when I tried out for the baseball team I wasn’t really prepared to perform. Not making the team fueled the fire and gave me a new jump start so I left the band and got back to what I really loved which was baseball.”
Carmouche transferred back home to attend Lamar University in 2012. With an already stacked baseball team, he chose to take a baseball class at the school which helped him develop a better swing at the plate as well as improve his footwork at first base.
Following his time at Lamar, he spent the next two years playing for the Coastal Baseball League – a semi-pro/summer collegiate league located in Houston. He was fairly consistent at the plate in his two seasons in the league.
During that time, he mostly worked as a pizza delivery guy for Pizza Hut just to make ends meet.
“It was only difficult when I had weekday games,” he said, “because most of the games would be at night and I worked nights so I couldn’t take time off for majority of the games. As for weekend games, I was good because most of them were early in the morning.”
Luckily for Carmouche he wasn’t the only player in the league who had scheduling issues.
The coaches in the Coastal Baseball League worked with them to make sure their schedules would work out well enough for most of the players to play games. They even went as far as canceling several games throughout the season and rescheduling them for later in the year to make sure everybody could play.
When Carmouche wasn’t playing in the Coastal Baseball League, he traveled around the country to try out for teams. He went to several MLB tryouts including one held by his favorite team, the Houston Astros. Each time he fell short of getting a contract offer. It took quite on toll on him.
“It got hectic at times because some (of my tryouts) were good and others weren’t so good,” he said. “I had my fair share of good and bad tryouts. The stress I put on myself was tremendous at times because I’ve always been the guy to have crazy expectations and goals for himself.”
He also mentioned the ongoing battle to gain the support of his parents which weighed heavily on him throughout those two years. However, it didn’t stop him from pushing himself to accomplish his goals.
One day while researching for tryouts, he came across the Texas Winter League (TWL) — a league based in San Antonio aimed to help current and aspiring professional baseball players gain exposure to managers and coaches who have the ability to sign players to pro contracts for the upcoming regular season. The league also helped players improve their skills as several pro coaches worked for the league.
Carmouche decided to sign up for the TWL.
While there, he played alongside several guys who have played pro ball before — including outfielder Jacob Fabry, who appeared on Fox Sports 1’s TV show The Pecos League.
“Jacob was an awesome teammate. I had a couple of conversations with him about pro ball and just the game itself. He gave me some great advice on my approach at the plate. I took a little advice from pretty much everyone on my team. They were all great ball players with unique abilities. Nathan Lewellyn and Samuel Gonzales both told me something great that has stuck with me. They said don’t try to be better than the next player at the TWL, just play the game with all I have and that good talent won’t go unnoticed.”
He played for the Laredo Apaches — who were managed by Brooks Carey, the skipper of the Normal Cornbelters of the Frontier League. Following the team’s first practice, Carey called him into his office and told him he had good pick skills as a first baseman and a good, solid bat. However, he reiterated that if Carmouche wanted to play at the professional level he would need to get into better shape.
Carmouche took that advice and hit the gym every day and night after games, putting in the extra work to make the weight change that was essential to his success as a pro baseball player.
He has lost a total of 25 pounds since his time in the TWL, and currently weighs 285 pounds.
His batting also improved tremendously thanks to the help of TWL hitting instructor Ozzie Canseco. He helped him see the ball better at the plate and make adjustments to different counts and scenarios as well.
“I feel he’s helped a lot,” Carmouche said of Canseco. “I’m hitting the ball harder, they’re just making great plays. I feel more confident in my swing and my approach with each at-bat now than I did compared to my first couple of weeks at the TWL.”
Despite all the positive strides he made to improve himself as a baseball player, Carmouche hit a measly .036/.250/.036 — collecting just one hit in 28 TWL at-bats. That one hit didn’t come until his last TWL game when he hit a single to center field off of right-handed pitcher Bobby Orozco.
Towards the end of the TWL season, Carmouche realized the chances of him getting a contract offer was slim to none.
“The TWL season was getting close to ending and I felt like I didn’t perform to the best of my abilities to earn a contract, so I emailed (Pecos league commissioner) Andrew Dunn and he told me to come play in the spring league in Houston.”
After participating in the Pecos Spring League, Carmouche received a spring training invite from the Las Cruces Vaqueros.
He will report to spring training this Sunday, May 10. Although he will be fighting for a roster spot, he is confident that he’ll be named to the Vaqueros opening day roster.
“I have faith I’ll make the final roster.”