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Top 30 Prospects: #18 Dylan Carlson

In collaboration with Kyle Reis and Birds On The Black, I’m proud to present you with the Cardinals Top 30 Prospects! Every other day over the next day two months, we’ll be providing you with another in-depth scouting report on one of the best 30 prospects in the organization. Today, we have #18, Dylan Carlson

18. Dylan Carlson – OF/1B

1st Round – 2016 Draft
Entering age-19 season
2017 wRC+: 101

Register Batting
2017 18 -3.2 Peoria MIDW A STL 115 451 383 63 92 18 1 7 42 6 6 52 116 .240 .342 .347 .690 133 5 9 4 3 1
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 2/16/2018.

What I Like

It’s so fitting that Dylan Carlson is our #18 prospect since his age is cause for so much of the optimism that surrounds him. Last season, while over three years younger than the average player in the Midwest League, Carlson was an above average hitter, at least according to wRC+ (101).

While another uber-young prospect from the 2016 draft was struggling with temperament issues in Johnson City, Carlson was grinding away in Peoria,  a level too advanced for him. The numbers bear it out: in April, he hit .175, in May he improved to .213, then peaked in June when he hit .296 with a pair of homers. The importance of that improvement is a huge reason his 2017 was a success.

Though he profiles as a corner outfielder, I can’t help but be intrigued by the thought of him transitioning to first base. He’s left-handed, and if you’re athletic enough to see professional innings in center, you’re certainly athletic enough to play the same position as Matt Adams. Meanwhile, first base is a gaping hole in the organization that a prospect of Carlson’s caliber would alleviate.

His swing is simple yet contains the potential for plus power. A major hindrance is his proclivity to hit ground balls (his GB/FB ratio was nearly 1:1 last season), but that’s a small complaint considering how much younger he was compared to his competition. Coupled with his ability to get on base consistently, it’s hard not to love Carlson as a hitter even if his numbers look pedestrian at first glance.

What I Don’t Like

Easy: too many strikeouts. In 2016 and 2017 he struck out in over 25% of his plate appearances. That’s simply too many K’s, but again, he was playing against much older and advanced competition the entire time.

He didn’t hit for as much power as I would have liked, either. That’s a trend I don’t see continuing, however, as you can see flashes of potentially plus power.

Over the summer, I compared him to Christian Yelich. Now, that’s not a fair comparison (at all) for someone with tons of development left to do. I can’t shake it, though. Carlson certainly has the ability to hit .300 and the power is in there, somewhere, just waiting to be excavated. The club has been aggressive with his assignments so I see no reason they shouldn’t be aggressive again. We know the Florida State League is a terrible place to hit, so I would start Carlson at Double-A Springfield. Perhaps that’s a little selfishness on my part (I’d get to watch one of my favorite prospects in person), but I also think it’s the right move for Carlson.

Thanks for reading! As always thanks to Baseball Reference and Fangraphs for their statistics databases. Be sure to check out Kyle’s post tomorrow at Birds On The Black, and check out Prospect To Be Named Later for even more minor league content.

Colin Garner

Get caught up!
19. Max Schrock
20. Tommy Edman
21. Edmundo Sosa

22. Johan Oviedo 
23. Evan Mendoza
24. Patrick Wisdom
25. Sam Tewes
26. Wadye Ynfante
27. Matt Pearce
28. Alvaro Seijas
29. Andy Young
30. Stefan Trosclair

Colin Garner
Colin is a catcher at Drury University who's a big fan of pitch calling, bullpenning, and Game of Thrones. Gets very frustrated with nonsense from people around him while attending games.
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