Dylan Carlson didn’t take long to make an impact after returning from the Cardinals' alternate training site.
St. Louis’ top-ranked prospect went 2-for-3 and crushed a three-run homer in his first start since being sent to Springfield, capping a late comeback effort as the Cardinals completed a sweep of the Pirates with a 7-2 victory on Friday at PNC Park. He struck out as a pinch-hitter in the first game of the doubleheader.
"In the moment, I was just fired up to come through for the team," Carlson told reporters. "I was just worried about getting the guys in right there and finding a way to get some runs on the board. Yeah, it definitely felt good though."
Batting eighth, Carlson grounded out in his first trip to the plate in the nightcap. He came around again in the fifth, singling to center off starter Chad Kuhl and moving up on a bunt but was stranded at second when Kolten Wong went down on strikes to end the inning.
Things accelerated in the sixth for both the Cardinals and Carlson. Tommy Edman drew a leadoff walk and Paul Goldschmidt reached on catcher's interference. Brad Miller also walked and Paul DeJong plated Edman with a sacrifice fly to tie it at 2-2.
Tyler O'Neill reached on a throwing error that plated Goldschmidt with the go-ahead run. Matt Carpenter also got aboard on an errant throw that allowed pinch-runner Harrison Bader score.
That brought up Carlson with runners on first and second. After taking three balls and fouling off a fourth offering from Chris Stratton, MLB Pipeline's No. 16 overall prospect turned on a four-seamer from the right-hander and deposited it over the center field fence. The blast capped a six-run outburst and completed the scoring.
"Even in his early at-bats, we just saw him with more clarity to what he was looking to do," St. Louis manager Mike Shildt said. "The single, I think, might've relaxed him a little bit. And then you just saw a nice fluid stroke that we've seen. Honestly, that was a big three-run homer, man, opened that game up. You just saw a guy letting his talent work and getting back to what made him successful."
Carlson said most of what he changed upon returning from Springfield came on the mental end of things, and that the team's brass wanted to see similar adjustments.
"Our conversation was real simple," Carlson said, referring to general manager John Mozeliak. "I said I wanted to come out here and trust myself and he basically said the same thing, 'Just come out here, have fun and trust yourself and go show everyone what you could do.' It was nice to hear that."
It was the second big league homer for Carlson and his first since Aug. 23. He boosted his line to .179/.213/.240 with eight RBIs and seven runs scored in 25 games in The Show.
"Things start speeding up a little bit," Carlson said of his first stint with the big club. "I got out of my game and the way I play the game, and I just think taking that second off definitely let me gather myself and come back here and let me regain that edge. I've got something to prove coming back out here."
Across five seasons in the Minor Leagues, Carlson hit 47 homers. He put together a .260/.350/.431 line, driving in 194 runs and scoring 256 in 403 games. The 21-year-old rocketed up prospect lists last year when he batted .292/.372/.542 between Double-A Springfield and Triple-A Memphis.
For Pittsburgh, No. 2 prospect Ke'Bryan Hayes went 0-for-3. The slick-fielding third baseman is hitting .296/.377/.537 a little over two weeks into his big league career.
In other action:
Phillies 7, Blue Jays 0 (1st game)
No. 28 overall prospect Alec Bohm continued his torrid September with a pair of hits, a walk and an RBI in the opener of the Phillies' doubleheader. He lined a single to center field off southpaw Robbie Ray and scored on a knock by Phil Gosselin, then singled home Roman Quinn against Blue Jays No. 23 prospect Thomas Hatch in the sixth. The top Phillies prospect is batting .360 in 20 games this month. Mickey Moniak, Philadelphia's No. 13 prospect, went 0-for-3. Hatch surrendered two runs on three hits and a walk in 1 1/3 innings. Box score
Phillies 8, Blue Jays 7 (2nd game)
No. 13 Phils prospect Mickey Moniak knocked a one-out single to right field in the fourth inning for his first Major League hit. The milestone was upstaged one batter later when eighth-ranked Rafael Marchan -- who had never homered in 846 Minor League plate appearances -- skied a three-run shot into the right field seats for his first dinger as a professional. At 21 years and 206 days old, Marchan became the youngest Phillies catcher ever to go yard and the youngest Phillie at any position to homer since Scott Rolen on Sept. 6, 1996 at 21 years and 155 days old. While he didn't produce an RBI, top prospect Alec Bohm reached on an infield single in the sixth that plated the decisive run after a throwing error by second baseman Joe Panik. Box score
Indians 1, Tigers 0
No. 17 Indians prospect James Karinchak cleaned up the final out of the eighth inning for starter Zach Plesac, fanning Miguel Cabrera to strand two baserunners. The right-hander has a 2.63 ERA over 24 innings. Sixth-ranked Tigers prospect Isaac Paredes went 1-for-3, while No. 17 Bryan Garcia issued three walks while recording two outs. Box score
Cardinals 6, Pirates 5 (1st game)
Second-ranked Bucs prospect Ke'Bryan Hayes extended his hitting streak to five games with a two-run single in Game 1 of the doubleheader. He also walked in four plate appearances. Box score
Reds 7, White Sox 1
Garrett Crochet made the White Sox decision to call up the 2020 first-rounder look smart. Making his professional debut, the left-hander out of the University of Tennessee struck out two in a 1-2-3 sixth inning. Crochet fanned Brian Goodwin with a 100.5-mph four-seam fastball, then blew three heaters past No. 6 Reds prospect Jose Garcia for another punchout. The No. 4 White Sox prospect’s final pitch to Garcia registered 101.5 mph. Third-ranked Nick Madrigal went 2-for-4 with a run scored out of the leadoff spot for Chicago and is batting .333. No. 6 Jonathan Stiever surrendered four homers in 2 2/3 innings and took the loss in his second big league start. Box score
Rays 2, Orioles 1
Randy Arozarena , Tampa Bay’s No. 19 prospect, went 0-for-5. He’s batting .256/.348/.590 through 15 games this season. Fifth-ranked O's prospect Ryan Mountcastle went 0-for-3 with a walk, dropping his slash line to .337/.400/.554 in 27 games in the big leagues. Box score
Nationals 5, Marlins 0 (1st game)
No. 2 Nationals prospect Luis Garcia went 2-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored in the first game of a doubleheader. Both of his knocks came against No. 22 overall prospect Sixto Sanchez, who gave up five runs on eight hits and two walks with two strikeouts over four innings in his shortest outing in six big league starts. Top Nats prospect Carter Kieboom contributed a run-scoring single, walked and scored. For Miami, No. 4 prospect Jazz Chisholm walked in three plate appearances. Box score
Marlins 14, Nationals 3 (2nd game)
Marlins No. 10 prospect Monte Harrison entered late as a defensive replacement and went 0-for-1. Top Nats prospect Carter Kieboom was 1-for-3, slapping a single in the fourth inning. No. 2 Luis Garcia came on in the sixth and bounced into a double play in his lone at-bat. Fifth-ranked Wil Crowe was pegged with the loss after allowing six runs on four hits, including a pair of homers, and two walks over 2 1/3 innings. He carries an 11.88 ERA in three career big league appearances. No. 25 James Bourque gave up three runs in one inning of relief, raising his ERA to 6.75. Box score
Brewers 9, Royals 5
Tenth-ranked Brewers prospect Drew Rasmussen earned his first Major League win by tossing a scoreless inning. The right-hander allowed one hit and one walk while striking out two, knocking his ERA down to 2.13 in nine appearances. No. 23 prospect Tyrone Taylor went 0-for-5 and is batting .259/.333/.519. Royals No. 21 prospect Edward Olivares was 0-for-3 to send his slash line to .265/.275/.449 in 13 games since he was acquired from the Padres. Box score
D-backs 6, Astros 3
No. 28 D-backs prospect Pavin Smith went 1-for-4 with an RBI triple, his first three-bagger in the Majors. The 24-year-old is 6-for-19 (.316) in five games since joining the team from its alternate training site. Third-ranked Daulton Varsho also finished 1-for-4 and has at least one knock in four of his last five games. No. 16 Astros prospect Luis Garcia was handed his first big league loss. After tossing a 1-2-3 sixth, the right-hander allowed three consecutive hits and threw a wild pitch that helped produce a pair of runs. No. 27 Blake Taylor ended the inning but surrendered a solo homer to Kole Calhoun in the eighth. Box score
Dodgers 15, Rockies 6
Los Angeles got the best of No. 14 Rockies prospect Ryan Castellani, tagging the right-hander for eight runs -- seven earned -- on four hits and three walks in 4 1/3 innings. No. 2 overall prospect Gavin Lux crushed one of the two dingers Castellani allowed, a two-run shot in the second that sailed 453 feet. The blast ended a four-game hitless drought for Lux, who tacked on a single to finish 2-for-5 with two runs scored. Fourth-ranked Dodgers prospect Brusdar Graterol tossed 1 1/3 scoreless innings, while No. 11 Mitch White worked two hitless frames. Rockies No. 18 prospect Josh Fuentes went 3-for-4 with a three-run homer off veteran southpaw Alex Wood. Box score
Angels 6, Rangers 2
Rookie-right-hander Jimmy Herget, who opened and walked two in a scoreless first inning, was the only Rangers pitcher who did not allow a run. Wes Benjamin gave up two runs over four frames and surrendered Albert Pujols’ 661st homer, which moved the Angels slugger up to fifth on the all-time list ahead of Willie Mays. No. 22 Rangers prospect Demarcus Evans made his Major League debut in the seventh and also served up a homer to Pujols. Seventh-ranked Anderson Tejeda went 2-for-3 with a double and a run scored, while No. 2 Sam Huff doubled for his first extra-base hit in the bigs. Box score
Athletics 6, Giants 0
Top Giants prospect Joey Bart singled with two outs in the seventh innings for one of San Francisco's three hits on the night. The 23-year-old has two hits in his last six games and is batting .250/.316/.319 this season. Box score
Jordan Wolf is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter: @byjordanwolf.