The Cardinals were a playoff team a season ago, but they’re off to a slow start in a coronavirus-delayed year and their offense has been lacking during their 2-3 opening. Top prospect Dylan Carlson may be able to help the Cards overcome their woes at the plate, but they’re not eager to promote the 21-year-old yet, according to manager Mike Shildt (via Benjamin Hochman of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch).
While St. Louis is “comfortable and confident what Dylan can do,” the club’s belief is that “there’s not a need for Dylan at the moment,” per Shildt. President of baseball operations John Mozeliak added the Cardinals aren’t ready to tab Carlson because he may not be in line for “a true opportunity” at his point.
The Cardinals have largely gone with a Tyler O’Neill–Harrison Bader–Dexter Fowler alignment in the outfield in the handful of games they’ve been able to play. Lane Thomas is also in the mix, though he has only totaled four plate appearances this year. O’Neill and Fowler have posted above-average production across larger sample sizes, but Bader has struggled. So has designated hitter Matt Carpenter, who’s in line for an infield role with shortstop Paul DeJong on the shelf because of a positive coronavirus test. There could be room for Carlson in the Cardinals’ lineup sometime soon, then, especially considering that promoting him wouldn’t burn a year of service time. However, it appears his first major league call-up will have to wait for at least a little while longer.
Whenever it arrives, Carlson’s MLB debut should draw plenty of attention. A former first-round pick (No. 33 in 2016), the switch-hitting Carlson has continued to boost his stock since the Cardinals added him to their system. Carlson raked between Double-A and Triple-A last year, when he slashed .292/.372/.542 with 62 extra-base hits (28 doubles, 26 home runs, eight triples) and 20 steals over 562 plate appearances, and brings experience at every outfield position.