The Cardinals’ hole in left field has many fans focused on top prospect Dylan Carlson, and Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch explores the 21-year-old’s potential timeline to the big leagues. The Cards, Goold notes, don’t have a history of service time manipulation — in part because they’re aggressive in trying to lock up key young players on long-term contracts that buy out the seventh year that would be gained by holding a prospect down in the minors. That said, Carlson has limited exposure in Triple-A and several competitors he’ll have to outplay in decisive fashion this spring in order to be considered for the Opening Day roster. Tyler O’Neill, Lane Thomas, Justin Williams and waiver claim Austin Dean are all in the mix for at-bats in the outfield. Goold spoke with president of baseball ops John Mozeliak, manager Mike Schildt, teammate Jack Flaherty and Carlson himself about what it’d take to complete the former No. 33 overall pick’s ascent to the Majors. Mozeliak wouldn’t expressly rule out an Opening Day nod for Carlson, indicating that the club would use Spring Training “to figure out exactly what we have.” Barring injury, it’d be a surprise if Carlson didn’t play in the Majors at some point in 2020.
More notes on some of the game’s most promising young talent…
- The Dodgers plan to utilize newly acquired flamethrower Brusdar Graterol as a reliever in 2020, writes Jorge Castillo of the Los Angeles Times. That’s the same plan that the Twins had for the highly touted righty, making it all the more perplexing that the Red Sox claim to have backed away from the three-team iteration of the Mookie Betts blockbuster upon deciding that Graterol was best suited for the ’pen in the short-term. Dodgers skipper Dave Roberts tells Castillo that his understanding of Graterol’s medical review is that he’s “asymptomatic,” and the right-hander has impressed officials with his new club right out of the gate in camp. “A guy with his stuff, it’s just a different look for our bullpen,” pitching coach Mark Prior says. “The ability to bring that kind of raw power, impact into the game is only a good thing for us.” The state of limbo in which Graterol found himself after the Red Sox backed off the initial trade iteration wasn’t easy on the righty, who felt like he “had a weight on top of” him while awaiting resolution.
- White Sox righty Dane Dunning is slated to throw his first live batting practice of the spring next week, writes MLB.com’s Scott Merkin. That’ll be Dunning’s first time facing hitters since undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2019. Dunning, 25, was a consensus top 100 prospect heading into the 2019 season but didn’t throw a pitch during the season due to that surgery. Dunning, whom the White Sox acquired from the Nationals in the Adam Eaton trade, acknowledged that he’ll likely be on an innings limit in 2020. There’s no indication as to the organization’s target for him, but Dunning has never tossed more than the 144 frames he logged back in 2017 — be it in college or in pro ball.
- A knee injury shortened the 2019 season for Giants outfield prospect Heliot Ramos, but president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi believes that the 2017 first-rounder can “absolutely” ascend to the Majors in 2020, writes Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle. Ramos wasn’t invited to Major League Spring Training and has only played 25 games in Double-A, where he’ll likely open the 2020 campaign. But the Giants have a fairly wide-open outfield at the moment, with veteran Hunter Pence returning to join Steven Duggar and a pair of corner options with limited track records (Mike Yastrzemski and Alex Dickerson). Ramos, who hit .290/.369/.481 in 444 plate appearances between Class-A Advanced and Double-A when healthy in 2019, remains the organization’s top outfield prospect and won’t turn 21 until this September.