St. Louis Cardinals: Keep Dylan Carlson in the Minors until 2020

ST LOUIS, MO - JULY 16: Fans take in a game between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Pirates in the fifth inning at Busch Stadium on July 16, 2019 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images) ***Local Caption***
ST LOUIS, MO - JULY 16: Fans take in a game between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Pirates in the fifth inning at Busch Stadium on July 16, 2019 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images) ***Local Caption*** /

One of the St. Louis Cardinals’ prospects is among the best hitters in the entire Texas League. While a callup is tempting, he should stay in the Minors.

The St. Louis Cardinals occasionally will push a prospect very hard in their path to the Majors. They don’t do it with everyone because not everyone can handle the rigors of adjusting from college/high school baseball to what the game is like as you get closer and closer to the MLB.

The prospects that have the ability to get through the rigors of quick promotions usually end up being stars in the league for years. Recently, the only two young players the team has risked quick promotions on have been 2016 and 2018 first-round picks, Dylan Carlson and Nolan Gorman.

These two studs are following in closely the same footsteps, performing slightly differently, but timeline-wise, they are pretty close. Gorman is actually trending a little faster than Carlson, but Gorman is producing more on the stat sheet.

With Carlson, the Cardinals saw how intelligent he was and saw things more than what was just on the stat line to show that he was ready for promotion. This year was a big year for Carlson as starting the year in AA Springfield at the ripe age of 20 (still almost four years younger than the average AA player), he finally needed to show his true potential on the stat sheet. The rubber met the road, and Carlson is speeding.

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Eliminating a slight dip in production in June, Carlson has been amazing the whole year. For the year, he has a .291/.371/.529 slash line. He leads the Texas League in homers with 16 and has an OPS of .900. He is the Cardinals #2 prospect (only behind Gorman) and is likely on the verge of being a potential All-Star in the MLB.

Many players make the jump straight from AA to the MLB, but with the Cardinals currently playing the way that they are, should Carlson make the jump?

Carlson has shown he can compete with the best of the best of his peers when he drove in a run during the 2019 Futures Game earlier this month, and I don’t doubt that he could perform should he be brought up, but I don’t think the Cardinals should rush him anymore. Let me explain.

The St. Louis Cardinals have not been a very great team this year. They lack the production on the offensive side of the ball that the switch-hitting Carlson could provide. That being said, at just 20, it’s not like he needs to come up and produce now or be considered a bust.

The Cardinals also have about five outfielders above him on the depth chart. Marcell Ozuna, Harrison Bader, Jose Martinez, Dexter Fowler, Tyler O’Neill, Lane Thomas, and Randy Arozarena are all technically above him on the depth chart. CARLSON MAY CURRENTLY BE BETTER OPTIONS THAN A FEW OF THESE PLAYERS. But him not being on the 40-man roster and none of these players imminently moving just makes the reward of bringing him up not worth the roster moves needed.

This list also doesn’t signal anything good for his potential playing time. If Carlson were to come up, it’s very unlikely (with the current major league outfielders the team has) that he would play regularly as he should.

Carlson has been rushed his entire minor league career and making this last big jump could knock him down and kill his confidence for some time, especially if he doesn’t play at least 50/50. There is no reason to rush him up and having him continue to slug at AA (or AAA) would only build his confidence moving into next year.

If Carlson is going to struggle and keep growing, something that’s bound to happen, struggling in the Minors is going to be much healthier for his career than coming up and sitting on the bench.

There is no reason to rush him. It’s exciting to see him doing so well after all the years of promise, but don’t let the emotion get in the way of what is best for the kid long term.

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The Cardinals have basically said they don’t have interest in resigning Ozuna after his contract is up at the end of the season. Next year is the year for Carlson. Let him finish the year at AA or AAA and then let him compete for the starting job in left field next year. In my opinion, that’s how you maximize his value.