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Cardinals call up Carlson to The Show

No. 18 overall prospect blasted career-high 26 homers last season
Dylan Carlson has amassed a .431 career slugging percentage over the course of 403 Minor League games. (Julio Cortez/AP)
@AndrewAtBatt
August 13, 2020

A bevy of prospects have gotten their tickets to the Majors this year, and Dylan Carlson will be next to climb aboard. MLB.com's No. 18 overall prospect is heading to The Show for the first time, Cardinals president John Mozeliak told reporters Wednesday. He'll be joined by No. 28 St.

A bevy of prospects have gotten their tickets to the Majors this year, and Dylan Carlson will be next to climb aboard.

MLB.com's No. 18 overall prospect is heading to The Show for the first time, Cardinals president John Mozeliak told reporters Wednesday. He'll be joined by No. 28 St. Louis prospect Seth Elledge , No. 30 Ricardo Sanchez, and left-handers Rob Kaminsky and John Nogowski.

Carlson, a first-round pick in 2016, had flashes of power in his first three professional seasons, but didn't put things together for a full year until 2019. Everything came together in the switch-hitting outfielder's breakout season.

The top Cardinals prospect started off with Double-A Springfield and crushed 21 homers while batting .281/.364/.518 in 108 Texas League games. Carlson earned a midseason All-Star spot and an invitation to the All-Star Futures Game in Cleveland. He started in the showcase game in right field and finished 1-for-2 with an RBI single in the fourth inning of the 2-2 tie.

On Aug. 15, Carlson was promoted to Triple-A Memphis and kept rolling at the plate. The California native belted five more long balls and 11 total extra-base hits with a 1.098 OPS over the final 18 contests in the International League. Overall for the year between two levels, Carlson finished with career bests in homers (26), average (.292) and OPS (.914).

At Double-A, according to Fangraphs, the 21-year-old produced a 142 wRC+ and was even better in a short sample at Triple-A with a 161 wRC+. He also swiped 20 bases, becoming one of only 10 Minor Leaguers last season to go 20-20.

When the year was over, Carlson piled up the accolades including Texas League Player of the Year, the Cardinals' Minor League Player of the Year, the MiLBY for Breakout Prospect and the fans' choice MiLBY for Best Offensive Player.

"None of it ever exceeded Dylan's expectations because he plays with great confidence, he has a tremendous work ethic, and that's the big key. He always places the accountability right on his own shoulders," Cardinals director of player development Gary LaRocque told MiLB.com in December. "Offensively, clearly he's established himself as a threat, and we've been real pleased with how he's gone about getting quality at-bats. He doesn't give away too many at-bats as he's gone through the Minor Leagues."

While Carlson has played all three outfield positions in the Minors, he spent the bulk of his time in 2019 in center field, where he had a perfect fielding percentage and notched four assists.

His combination of power and speed was on full display in the abbreviated Grapefruit League season this year as he batted .313 with a .919 OPS in 13 games. He also showed good discipline, drawing seven walks while whiffing just five times. He made one appearance during a Summer Camp game, drawing a walk against the Royals on July 22.

Carlson has been on the team's 60-player roster pool and looks to join the club as the Cardinals expect to resume play Saturday against the White Sox in a doubleheader. Due to a COVID-19 outbreak on the team, St. Louis has not played since July 29.

Andrew Battifarano is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter, @AndrewAtBatt.