Article on Levi

Here is an article I found about the newest Shorebirds player Levi Carolus.  It was written last season in the Bluefield Telegraph.  The article was authored by Brian Woodson on July 28, 2008 when Levi was playing with the Bluefield Orioles. I thought it was an interesting read…

 

BLUEFIELD — Many Appalachian League players are just starting their professional careers.

Levi Carolus is a veteran. At age 20.

Of course, his childhood hero, Andruw Jones, was a World Series hero for the Atlanta Braves at 19. Carolus wants to get where Jones is.

“That is my dream,” said Carolus, who has played six different positions in 23 games for the Bluefield Orioles.

A native of Willstad, Curacao in the Netherlands Antilles — the same hometown as Jones — Carolus has taken a long road to Bluefield.

“I was playing for a team from Curacao in the Netherlands and the scout from the Orioles seen me and asked me if I wanted to sign with them,” Carolus said. “I was like ‘OK’.”

At age 17, Carolus wound in the Venezuelan League, playing there for two seasons. He was in the Gulf Coast League in Florida last year before winding up in Bluefield for the ’08 campaign.

“I played two years in Venezuela and did good there and they gave me a (work) visa and last year I played in the Gulf Coast League and did good.” Carolus said. “Now I’m in Bluefield.”

Carolus, who has played 17 of his 23 games at third base, was hitting .211 (16-76) with five runs scored, three doubles, a triple, one home run and six runs batted in heading into Friday’s game with Danville.

“It’s good,” said Carolus, who had stolen three bases, but had also struck out 32 times and walked just once. “I don’t hit it well right now, but I try, that’s it.”

Baseball was always a passion for Carolus, and he was always willing to play anywhere on the field. That has definitely turned into one of his strengths.

“I played third, shortstop, first base, outfield, that is one of my strengths, being able to play several positions,” said Carolus, who has committed nine in the field. “I grew up playing shortstop and then third base and then I go to the outfield, and then I started playing some first base too.”

Carolus was first seen by a Baltimore scout while he was playing for his native country. They liked what they saw and Carolus liked what he heard.

“They followed me and (asked) me if I wanted to try out for them,” he said.

“It was no problem, they saw me and said ‘We want to sign you’.”

While Carolus is nearly 2,000 miles from his home, there is a familiar face in Bluefield. Arthur Bonevacia, an outfielder for the Orioles, was a childhood friend in the Netherlands.

“We played together for about 10 years back in the Netherlands and here,” Carolus said. “It’s good to have a friend here, that’s good.”

Both have learned to enjoy their time in Bluefield.

“He likes it here too,” Carolus said. “Bluefield is pretty nice, I like it. It’s got nice people, it’s been real good so far.”

Carolus has found the pitching to be quite a challenge in the Appalachian League, one year after batting .222 (37-123) with four home runs and 26 RBIs at five different positions in the Gulf Coast League.

“They throw you more curveballs and more changeups in the Appalachian League,” said Carolus, who also had 23 runs, 11 doubles and six stolen bases for the 32-24 Orioles’ entry in the GCL. “In the Gulf Coast League they throw you more fastballs.”

While Jones started the influx of talent from the Netherlands into the major leagues, others have followed, including Jair Jurrjens, a pitcher with the Atlanta Braves and Wladimir Balentin, a highly-touted outfielder for Seattle.

Carolus grew up watching the exploits of Jones, who is still a Gold Glove center fielder, only now with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

“I followed the Braves because Andruw Jones is from our area so I followed the Atlanta Braves growing up,” Carolus said. “I like (Alex) Rodriguez too, there are a lot of players up there, you hit the ball good, that’s it.”

It can be tough for a 20-year-old being so far from home. Still, Carolus is willing to do what it takes to live his dream.

“It’s a long way, but I have played for years in this game,” Carolus said.

It’s my job now, you just have to do it. It’s tough, but you just have to keep moving on.”

His parents made the long trip to Bluefield earlier this month, visiting the region and even taking a road trip with the team.

“They stayed 10 days here, they told me Bluefield is pretty nice,” said the 6-foot-1, 160-pound Carolus. “They go with me on the road to Danville and that was good, they liked it here.”

After being discovered by a Baltimore scout, Carolus spent two years in the Venezuelan League. He hit .186 (27-245) with 24 runs scored, three homers and 11 RBIs at age 17, and followed that the next year by hitting .281 (39-139) with 37 runs scored, six home runs, 25 RBIs, but also struck out 34 times and walked just twice.

While the Orioles have been patient with Carolus — who won’t turn 21 until Sept. 21 — he realizes that he must produce to continue moving up the Orioles chain.

“You have to keep playing hard, do your job and keep going up,” Carolus said. “If you do your best you go up. If you do bad, you stay here or go down and nobody wants to see you so that’s why you want to go to the MLB.”

Being in a country where English is the pre-dominant language, life can get a little lonely for Carolus and the numerous other Dominicans on the Orioles. That’s another sacrifice that must be made to live their dreams.

“I try to help (the others) when I can,” Carolus said. “It’s toughest sometimes like when your mom calls you and they have a problem back home and you feel bad because you can’t be back home with them and you can’t do nothing, but everything is going good right now.”

Carolus in on a team with a plethora of position players, all looking for playing time. That has been a difficult adjustment, but it’s also provided a break for a man who has played baseball year round for most of his life.

“Sometimes you have to play four days in a week and that’s hard,” Carolus said. “Because you’re playing in spring training and extended spring and now you play here with another season so you do get tired.”

Still, the eye is on the dream. Just like it is for all the Orioles.

“If you want to keep going up,” Carolus said, “you just have to keep working hard.”

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