Burnsville baseball coach Mick Scholl sat in the dugout talking to one of his assistants 45 minutes after the last of his players and fans left Alimagnet Park after a 5-0 loss to Prior Lake.
As the two were walking off the field, Blaze senior Sam Carlson reappeared. He wasn't done for the evening.
"When I questioned why he was back, he simply replied that he needed to get his running in to physically prepare for the next day's game," Scholl said. "It is examples like this when no one is watching that has forever set him apart in my mind from any other athlete I have worked with."
That disciplined work ethic launched Carlson over a talented class of baseball peers to become the Star Tribune Metro Player of the Year. The righthanded pitcher was selected by the Seattle Mariners with the 55th overall pick in the second round of the MLB draft on Monday.
"He has worked his butt off in the weight room and on the mound to become the best he can," Scholl said.
Scholl has watched Carlson's growth through the years. As a freshman, Carlson was 6 feet and weighed 175 pounds. He since has grown 4 inches and added 30 pounds.
"I've gotten a lot stronger and grown into my frame," Carlson said.
He also has a dedicated workout partner in teammate and classmate Henry Ristvedt. Their workouts usually last an hour to 90 minutes.
"He's worked really hard, and I've seen how it has paid off," said Ristvedt, who has been a friend of Carlson's since they meet at Project KIDS in third grade. "I want to think we've helped each other get better through our friendly competitions."
The duo has to periodically stop at Chipotle after a workout for a burrito. Carlson's must contain vinaigrette.
"He likes doing everything a certain way," Ristvedt said. "He might be a little OCD [obsessive compulsive disorder]."
That just might be an understatement: "I'm very organized," Carlson said. "Everything in my room is in a certain spot, and I know exactly where everything is to a T."
Carlson grew up a fan of former Twins star Justin Morneau. That's not the reason though he wears number 33.
"My favorite number is 3, but Roman [Ahcan] took that jersey," Carlson said. "I figured I might as well have two 3s. That way I could be twice as lucky."
Like Morneau, the Blaze standout doesn't mind swinging for the fences. Carlson, who plays outfield or first base when he's not pitching, has seven home runs to go with a .493 batting average.
"He has impressive at-bats," Ristvedt said. "I'm not so sure he couldn't have been drafted as an outfielder."
Pitching, though, is his forte, and the reason he went so high in the draft. He has outstanding command of three pitches — fastball, slider and changeup. His fastball is consistently clocked in the low to mid-90s, and has topped out at 96 miles per hour.
"A lot of it is what you do when nobody is watching," Carlson said. "You have to motivate yourself. If you work hard, anything is possible."
Which is why Scholl puts his ace in a class by himself.
"He is the best baseball player to ever put on the black and gold uniform," Scholl said. "He is blessed with many talents, and what he does with those talents is his gift back."