One of the fastest rising prospects in recent memory, Dylan Carlson has a well-rounded skill set that should prove valuable in the (very) near future.
Ceiling: Andrew McCutchen – PHI
This comparison may seem a bit ambitious, but hear me out. Think about the early Cutch, prior to his MVP years, when he was a rising star.
He was a supreme athlete that would get the nod as a “five-tool player.” In his first three years, from 2009-2011, he was an All-Star caliber player, but not what he would become. He had a .276/.365/.458 slash, while averaging 37 doubles and 20 HR per season (162 game average).
To show his pure athleticism, he also averaged 26 stolen bases per season as well, showing his well-rounded ability as a player. He had a rough start as a center fielder but ended up developing into a Gold Glove-caliber outfielder.
Both players have actually followed a fairly similar career path up to now. Early draft pick, tore up minor league pitching as a younger player, top-30 prospect heading into what looked like their final minor league season.
Carlson absolutely has the ability to get to this level of production. It’s impossible (and foolish) to project a player to be an MVP, but if Carlson produced like early-career McCutchen for his career, he would be an absolute success for the Cardinals.
Floor: Odubel Herrera – PHI
Carlson is unique in the way that his skillset feels safe enough that the possibility of a flameout seems relatively low.
Early in his career, Odubel Herrera looked like a very solid piece for a rebuilding Phillies team. He was an all-around skilled player that signed a team-friendly extension.
Things didn’t turn out as expected and he now seems like an outcast. His 2017-2018 seasons seem like a decent barometer for what Carlson would look like on the low end of his career. Herrera posted a .268/.318/.436 line while averaging 18 homers and just six stolen bases per season. He also regressed to a league average fielder in center field, after previously being a strong defender.
Carlson has been a very disciplined hitter in his career up until now, but there is no guaranteeing that will continue against better pitching as he moves up. I really see Carlson swinging closer to the ceiling, but even his floor in this situation remains a productive MLB player.