No. 3: OF Dylan Carlson
Carlson's inclusion on this list was a tough one because is he really considered a "surprise" at this point? All signs are pointing to him also returning to form in the upcoming season, much like Matz, as he had a down year last year compared to his stats from the year before.
The 24-year-old outfielder is very much still developing and has shown some growing pains in his three seasons in the big leagues. In 2021, he hit 31 doubles and 18 home runs with 65 runs batted in and an OPS+ of 115, finishing third in the NL Rookie of the Year voting as well.
Then, his production dipped a bit in 2022. In 128 games, he hit 30 doubles again, which is nice, but he saw a power outage at the plate. With only eight home runs and 42 driven in, his power seemed to have dipped significantly and he finished the year with an OPS+ of 100, exactly league-average.
Widely considered to be the club's center fielder of the future, Carlson is no longer a lock to start the year in center with Tyler O'Neill leading the race for that position. Roster Resource has Carlson penciled into right field instead, but there will be pressure coming from Jordan Walker, Juan Yepez, and Alec Burleson for playing time in the corner outfield.
In 14 games, Carlson has gone 11-for-40 (.275 average) with a pair of doubles, three home runs, and a whopping 13 RBI. He has typically been a strong performer in spring as evidenced by his numbers from the past few years, but he's never come close to 13 RBI in a single spring, so these numbers are encouraging.
Again, Carlson is still young, but there's certainly going to be a ton of pressure coming in the near future. Let's hope he's uncovered some untapped potential this spring and will finally take a starting outfield gig and run with it.