With the team’s left-handed-hitting outfielders struggling recently, the Rangers have considered a big league promotion for top outfield prospect Evan Carter, reports Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. General manager Chris Young effectively confirmed as much earlier in the week, telling Grant that the team has “not ruled anything out” as it seeks to put forth its best lineup on a nightly basis.
Notably, that comment from Young and Grant’s initial report predate last night’s potential injury for star outfielder Adolis Garcia. The 30-year-old Garcia is slated to undergo an MRI on his right knee, per Jeff Wilson of Rangers Today, after landing awkwardly following an attempt to rob a Michael Brantley home run that narrowly cleared the right field wall.
Garcia, hitting .244/.322/.494, has been one of the Rangers’ top power threats and top defensive players this season. Any absence for him — even if only for a few games — would presumably increase the temptation to call Carter to the big leagues as Texas hopes to climb out of its recent skid. The Rangers dropped eight games in a row in August and have won just four of their past 19 contests, dropping from a commanding favorite in the AL postseason hunt to a half-game back of the Blue Jays for the top spot in the Wild Card chase. Texas currently sits three games behind the division-leading Astros and two behind the second-place Mariners.
Carter, 21, was a surprise pick by the Rangers at No. 50 overall in the 2020 draft. Carter wasn’t considered anywhere near that caliber of prospect at the time. He didn’t rank inside MLB.com’s top 200 draft prospects and didn’t even land inside Baseball America’s ranking of the top 500 amateurs in the draft. The canceled high school season that year surely contributed to the general lack of awareness regarding Carter, but the Rangers were convinced of his potential based on prior scouting trips — and it hasn’t taken long for their leap of faith to be proven correct.
Currently, Carter ranks as the No. 8 prospect in the sport at MLB.com, No. 10 on Baseball America’s top 100, and No. 32 at FanGraphs. He opened the 2023 season in Double-A, where he was more than four years younger than the average player, and he’s recently been promoted to Triple-A, where he’s more than six years younger than his average competitor.
Carter breezed through Double-A, batting .284/.411/.451 with a dozen homers, 22 steals (albeit in 32 tries) and a massive 16.3% walk rate — against a less-impressive but hardly alarming 22.3% strikeout rate. In eight games since being bumped to the Rangers’ top affiliate in Round Rock, he’s 12-for-34 (11 singles, one double) with three steals, four walks and six strikeouts. Overall, he’s combined for a .288/.415/.450 slash at the top two minor league levels.
At this point in the season, a promotion to the big leagues for Carter would surely leave his rookie status intact for the 2024 season. That’s of increased importance for teams with regard to their late-season promotions of top prospects, as it keeps them eligible to benefit from the “prospect promotion incentives” (PPIs) in the 2022-26 collective bargaining agreement. Those incentives can award bonus draft picks to teams whose top prospects finish well in awards voting, and Carter will surely enter next year’s season with the requisite prospect rankings to position the Rangers to potentially gain a coveted draft selection.
Because he was selected out of high school in 2020, Carter has not yet been eligible for the Rule 5 Draft and has thus not yet been selected to the Rangers’ 40-man roster. Texas currently has a full 40-man roster, so they’d need to make some type of transaction in that regard if they ultimately decide to bring Carter to the Majors.