It's been a wild summer for Dylan Carlson, but it's not quite over yet.
"To win it all in the first year would be something special," the Cardinals' first-round pick said. "We've all worked really hard to get here, so it's very exciting."
The 17-year-old had a pair of triples and two RBIs and starter Franyel Casadilla pitched five scoreless frames to lead the Cardinals past the Phillies, 3-0, in Game 1 of the Gulf Coast League Finals on Monday afternoon. The St. Louis Rookie-level affiliate can claim the championship with a win in Game 2 of the best-of-3 series.
"We're definitely excited, a lot of encouragement in [the clubhouse] and a lot of people are happy for each other," said Carlson. "We're just trying to finish this thing off."
Carlson, the No. 33 overall pick in the Draft this year, plated Delvin Perez and Dennis Ortega with a triple to right field in the bottom of the first inning. Casadilla, a 19-year-old right-hander from Venezuela, held the Phillies to six hits and a pair of walks while striking out three for the win.
"He was huge, keeping the momentum on our side the whole way, shutting down that lineup," said Carlson, who also tripled with two outs in the eighth. "That was a real good team, so for him to come out and do that it was huge for us."
Anthony Ciavarella and Jon Mulford combined to allow one hit over the final four innings to nail down the series-opening victory.
"That was huge," Carlson said of his early triple, his fourth this year. "Just trying to get the momentum on our side early on. I had guys in front of me in the lineup getting on base -- they did a great job and I was fortunate to get the job done and help the team win."
Venezuela native Mauricio Llovera started for the Phillies and allowed all three runs on three hits and three walks in 4 1/3 innings. The 20-year-old right-hander struck out four.
"I was just looking to get something elevated up in the zone I could handle," Carlson said of his first at-bat against Llovera. "Luckily I got a pitch I liked and was able to capitalize on it."
Mickey Moniak, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 Draft, went 0-for-2 as the Phillies' designated hitter before Lenin Rodriguez pinch-hit for him in the fifth inning.
As for Carlson, his first taste of professional baseball has been a memorable one, as he went from Elk Grove High School in California to the relative obscurity of the Gulf Coast League, where games include elite names such as Moniak but are often played on practice fields, away from the bright lights and big crowds of typical ballparks.
"It's a little different," said Carlson, who hit .251 with three homers, 22 RBIs and 13 doubles in 50 games this season. "But you know, when it comes down to it, you're playing baseball -- you give it all you've got each and every day. It's been what I expected. I'm learning a lot. The coaches have done a great job. They've helped develop each of one of us to become better. Each of us have made huge improvements."
Even playing against Moniak has been motivating for the outfielder.
"It's definitely exciting against someone drafted in the first round -- he's a great kid, talented player," he said. "It's awesome. It makes you compete even more and makes you wanna elevate your game."