Cardinals: St. Louis looking forward to full season of Dylan Carlson

Dylan Carlson will finally get a full season with the St. Louis Cardinals, and the team isn’t hiding its excitement.

The St. Louis Cardinals want to get Dylan Carlson as much playing time this season as possible. It was their motivation behind trading Dexter Fowler to the Los Angeles Angels and not signing any free-agent outfielders to major-league contracts.

Carlson, 22, is even keeled. It is why the organization was — and is — optimistic that his struggles early last season will not carry into this season. He debuted on Aug. 15 and hit .162 in 23 games. He was quickly optioned back to the team’s alternate training site. When he was called up 10 days later, he hit .278 in the final 12 games of the season with a .936 OPS.

That is what the Cardinals expect from Carlson, perhaps with his numbers increasing as he becomes more comfortable at the major-league level. The franchise is tempering expectations trying to not put too much pressure on him. But even president of baseball operations John Mozeliak and manager Mike Shildt are having a hard time containing their excitement for a full season of Carlson, via Zachary Silver of MLB.com:

“Just from a very simple performance standpoint, you want to see how that second stint up with a big league club is something that can just continue over,” Mozeliak said. “But I think more importantly, a lot of times with young players, it really comes down to just confidence and knowing that they belong. And I think in Dylan’s case, when you look at how he played when he was up for the second time, he felt like he knew he belonged.”

The Cardinals are hopeful that the addition of Nolan Arenado, combined with Paul Goldschmidt and Yadier Molina, will take the offense to a higher level. But having Carlson, one of the team’s top hitting prospects, with the team for a 162-game season should take it even further — and begin an era of what the Cardinals hope will be Carlson roaming the outfield for the foreseeable future.