There is probably no more talked about name in Jupiter Florida (Cardinal Spring Training) right now than that of Dylan Carlson. The Cardinal Phenom OF that has roared through the minor leagues He could be the first 21 year old to start for St Louis since Albert Pujols.
Drafted right out of Elk Grove High school in Elk Grove, CA. He was ranked 43rd nationally in his Senior season, with a slash of .406/.532/.821 career wise .322/.455/.524 So it seemed he came of "age" so to speak. He played all 3 OF positions,1B and pitched (He was 6-0 with a 1.44 ERA in 11 appearances including 7 starts,3 Complete Games and 1 save his SR year).
Drafted by the Cardinals in 2016,1st round, the 33rd overall pick. His first couple of years were not anything like his high school career
2016 rookie ball in Johnson City. .251/.313/.404 with 3 HRs, 22 RBIs in 50 games.
2017 in A ball Peoria .240/.342/.347 with 7 HRs, 42 RBIs in 115 games.
2018 started in Peoria .234/.368/.426 with 2 HRs, 9 RBIs in 13 games he was the moved to
High A ball in Palm beach .247/.345/.386 with 9 HRs 53 RBIs
It wasn't until he move to AA Springfield in 2019 that Dylan showed glimpses of what he was in Elk Grove. .281/.364/.518 with 21 HRs, 59 RBIs in 108 games. That earned him a late season promotion to AAA Memphis .361/.418/.681 with 5 HRs, 9 RBIs in just 18 games.
He has hit pretty evenly from both sides of the plate. Better Average right but power from the Left side.
He has good speed and base running instincts and plays high level defense Though most of his play has been in CF but he as played the corner OF positions as well. Scouting grades have him as; Hit: 50 | Power: 55 | Run: 50 | Arm: 55 | Field: 55 | Overall: 55. Savant describes Carlson like this "Carlson is a switch-hitter who has some serious offensive potential. While his right-handed swing is more impactful and consistent, Carlson has made significant strides as a left-handed hitter in 2019 while regularly tapping into his plus raw power from both sides. His strong knowledge of the strike zone and pitch recognition are major assets."
I will say having only seen him on tape and in his limited action this spring, I have been impressed with his field presence.
Will he make the 26 man roster?
This is the big debate because at the moment is not even on the 40 man roster. Is he truly ready to make the big jump? Does his game relate to the big stage? He is a definite 5 tool player. At this point I would say his power is suspect in terms of consistency, but it is there and developing and HE IS ONLY 21!
My biggest concern is his very small number of games in Triple A (18). For me personally I would like to see more AAA games. Now having said that, I do believe if he shows he is ready to make the jump and that he is ready to contribute and they can find the right spot, they WILL pull the trigger.
Now there has been the whole service time issue in terms of activating his arbitration status. Carlson has been considered a can't miss prospect in many baseball circles and often thought to be a requested piece in trade talks with other teams. Some have gone far enough to compare him to a Trout, Harper or Bryant when they came up, or in the case of the Cardinals a comparison to Albert Pujols. At this point his arbitration status does not feel like it is a main concern of the front office. While they would ultimately like to delay that process, they cannot deny what he is doing and how that level of production would fit. Media types that have been around Carlson are taken by his air of maturity. There are a few who have said that Carlson's demeanor and work ethic are way beyond most minor league prospects his age(21).
What is in front of him?
In terms of talent level there is not another outfielder on the Cardinal roster with Carlson's projected ceiling. Currently there are 6 outfielders on the 40 man roster Harrison Bader, Dexter Fowler, Tyler O'Neill, Justin Williams, Austin Dean and Lane Thomas. also add to that Rangel Ravelo and Tommy Edman who have both seen time in the Outfield. A new wrinkle perhaps that may just crack the door for him is the fact that with the departure of Yario Munoz from the 40 man roster there is an open spot. In terms of Spring numbers he leads ALL OF in AVG and OBP only Tyler O'Neill has a higher slugging PCT. With Both Dexter Fowler and Justin Williams hitting WAY below the Mendoza line (both are hitting .095 at the time of this writing). Carlson is making it very interesting and difficult for the Cardinals to NOT put him on the roster. There is the issue of how many outfielders they want to carry. Most people are saying the three lock down OF are O'Neill, Bader and Fowler. The only problem with this would be justifying Fowler. NOT ONLY in RF but even on the 26 man roster. Especially when you consider that there 5 players outperforming him. The problems leaving Fowler OFF the 26 man are
1 His No Trade Clause. Since he has no options he would have to be traded or DFA'd. ANY trade would have to approved by Fowler.
2. Now with the DFA he COULD be claimed off waivers. The Cardinals would still be on the hook for a large portion of the contract owed. Unless the team he goes to grants him an extension which would include next year 2021. That would take the Cardinals off the hook. That however has the chance of a snowball in Guam of happening.
3. His salary($16.5 Mil per yr) is not one that many teams would want unless they are getting rid of a higher contract.
Now this is not to say Fowler can't be moved just that it would be difficult. I really don't see the Cardinals carrying a "bench bat" at that price. I also don't see that IF, correction WHEN Carlson is called up that he will be the 4th outfielder. Carlson's call up will have a starting role attached to it If these next 2 weeks go as the first have the Cardinals will have to make some interesting moves. I firmly believe there is a better than 60% chance right now, that Carlson will break camp with the Cardinals as either the starting RF or CF. If not, we WILL see him in St. Louis this year at some point. Of that you can take to the bank.
Those are my thoughts what do you think? let me no here or hit me up on twitter(I could use the followers) @bortas2002
I will sign off paraphrasing Jack Buck. Thank you for taking your time, this time with my thoughts, until next the next time GO CARDS!