This season, the Cardinals outfielders combined to hit .197/.291/.380 with 16 home runs and a .671 OPS. These numbers are without Dylan Carlson, the Cardinals most coveted prospects in their system. August 13th, Carlson was called up by the Cardinals and gained immediate respect from pitchers as Carlson saw 28.3% of breaking balls this season, he whiffed 31.8% of the time on them. That wasn’t his main problem as offspeed was his biggest weakness as he saw offspeed 21.3% of the time and whiffed 40.4% of the time.
The Cardinals would end up sending Carlson to the Alternative Site to the dismay of many fans. However, this may have been the best-case scenario for Carlson as he was called back up and looked like a completely different hitter.
The Cardinals started with a 7-4 win over the Padres in game one of the Wild Card Series and Dylan Carlson was a big reason for the run production. The one thing that has become clear with Carlson is he’s been more patient at the plate and hasn’t been chasing breaking balls and offspeed. He’s also looked more comfortable at the plate which is great to see from the 21-year-old rookie. Another variable that has been shown this series is his MLB ready contact tool. While his exit velocities haven’t been too impressive his ability to spray the ball has helped propel the Cardinals bats so far.
This double had an exit velocity of 88.6 MPH but had a .950 xBA, this shows his ability to hit to the opposite field, which he did 23.7% of the time in the regular season. This in turn set up Yadier Molina’s RBI single quite well.
Carlson also has been game-changing with his defense as he made one of the better plays of game one, that kept the momentum for the Cardinals that helped them eventually win.
Game two resulted in a rather quiet day for Carlson but he did walk twice and those at-bats are below…
What’s interesting here is that Zach Davies threw Carlson five straight changeups and Carlson’s discipline has completely changed on the pitch giving him the most problems in 2020. If this continues with Carlson there’s really no concern with the development of his bat going forward.
In fact, according to Fangraphs, he’s cut his chase percentage while still seeing a lot of offspeed pitches, which as we discovered earlier is his major kryptonite. Furthermore, the Cardinals should be extremely excited about the way Carlson has developed after his time at the Alternative site.
Carlson yet again was bombarded with offspeed pitches and breaking balls. He put together another good at-bat this series and stayed on a curveball well and singled with an 81.5 MPH exit velocity and a .920 xBA. While I’ve been talking about his low exit velocities, against dominant lefty Drew Pomeranz. Again, Carlson got a breaking ball and grounded out. Now, this isn’t the important part, the exit velocity on it was 100.7 MPH, this is yet another encouraging sign for Carlson for the 2021 season and beyond. Carlson also showed his baseball IQ as he tagged up from second on a flyball to center fielder Trent Grisham. The throw sailed on Grisham and Carlson took second with ease. Just another reason to like Carlson long term.
To conclude, Carlson has nothing left to prove in the minors and this series shows how he can affect both sides of the ball with his high on-base abilities and power potential. There will be plenty of swing-and-miss with Carlson especially with the offspeed, that’s already changing as Carlson has shown the ability to consistently put together good at-bats at the major league level. I’m excited about Carlson’s development and fans should realize just how good he’s going to be for the Cardinals.
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