St. Louis Cardinals: Patience will be best for Carlson
One of the St. Louis Cardinals’ top prospects is knocking at the door at AAA Memphis after a great year. Why should the team be patient with him?
Dylan Carlson has been a hot name to talk about on this site and now many others are starting to see just how great this St. Louis Cardinals prospect has been this year. We can go through the dance again of telling you how great he has been where we tell you he was an All-Star and almost a 20/20 player at AA, then now that he moved to AAA, he has an OPS of about 1.100 over his first 13 games as the second-youngest player in the league.
If you’ve been paying attention at all, that’s something you should probably know. He recently added another accolade to his belt that is even more flattering.
Dylan Carlson is now your Texas League player of the year.
The last St. Louis Cardinals prospect to be awarded that honor was the late Oscar Taveras. Taveras was a bit of a higher touted prospect as he was also doing that at the age of 20 and was a consensus top-five prospect in baseball in the two years before he made it to the MLB, but that’s still big honor for Carlson and even being mentioned in the same sentence as Taveras shows how good Carlson might be.
The question now comes to whether or not Carlson deserves the call to the MLB during the roster expansion in September. I think not.
Trust me, I am super excited for Carlson to come up as you are too. I have written on him many times this summer and have loved seeing him break out and gain popularity. He is a student of the game and has the leadership tendencies and humility to truly be a successful player now at any outfield spot in the MLB.
If the Cardinals call him up in September, it has the chance to get the shock of being in the MLB out of Carlson’s system. He has probably not played in many stadiums with three decks or against this top talent with the crowds and the media and everything that comes with the MLB. If he gets those jitters out now, it will be better for him next year if the Cardinals plan to have him break Spring Training with the big club.
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There is also the chance that if you bring up Carlson’s hot bat, he could help boost the offense an offense that has been improved over the last week to an even higher level.
My problem with both of these things is that if the team brings up Carlson, I a) don’t think he will play, and b) I think that taking any outfielder out for Carlson to slide in the lineup hurts the team more than it helps it.
Mike Shildt has managed the team lineups questionably at times this year, especially when it comes to rookie outfielders. When the team brings up Randy Arozarena, he barely plays. Lane Thomas performs in any and all opportunities he’s given, but can’t draw a start more than every week and a half. Who would think it’d be any different for Carlson?
Arozarena was the best hitter in the entire organization at a level higher than Carlson and yet he still didn’t play. Carlson coming up to sit on the bench wouldn’t do much for the on-field play other than starting his major league clock. I don’t think it’s a fair argument to use contract clocks as a reason not to call the guy up, but it’s a small tally one way.
With Thomas as an example, when rosters expand there could be another 3-4 outfielders like Tyler O’Neill, Jose Martinez, Randy Arozarena, Justin Williams or more brought up as well, overcrowding any chances Carlson would have to play.
Wednesday’s game against the Brewers was a bit of a flop but the Cardinals still won the series against them and it ended a streak of both six straight wins as well as six straight games scoring six or more runs. The top of the order combo of Dexter Fowler and Kolten Wong has worked great to set the bases for Paul Goldschmidt and Marcell Ozuna to knock them in. Forcing Carlson in the lineup may disrupt that synergy that the team has found the last week.
Back to Fowler, Ozuna, and now Bader, which one can you confidently say you are going to sit to play Carlson?
Fowler has gotten hot since he’s been moved to the leadoff spot and although his average is still middling, his .400 OBP since he was moved. Carlson isn’t going to be able to replicate that.
With Bader, he has been on a tear since his return from AAA with a 1.140 OPS and has returned to his elite centerfield play. He’s not going anywhere.
Ozuna has the highest OPS of any of the regular starters and is leading the team in RBI’s as they finally have a reliable cleanup man, so he is also not going anywhere.
The point is simple. There is nowhere that the team can play Carlson regularly without taking out a contributor that is a big part of the offense currently. While it may be some benefit to him to come up and pinch-hit and start maybe once a week to get the jitters out of the way so he can start fresh next year, I’d say let him rest until he goes to the Arizona Fall League which he is confirmed as of the 28th of August to be playing in.
Carlson has been at AAA for 13 games. He could come up and do some damage, but he needs more seasoning and the AFL is a great chance for him to play against the best of the best as he did in the 2019 Futures Game, but for a longer period of time.
It is hard to keep the excitement levels down for prospects like Dylan Carlson or Nolan Gorman but it’s something that the team needs to do. I would expect the team won’t call him up but I wouldn’t put it past them. I’ve said it before and I will keep beating this drum but Dylan Carlson should break 2019 Spring Training as the Cardinals starting left fielder. For now, patience should prevail.