Cards' Carlson makes history in playoff debut
Two weeks ago, Dylan Carlson wasn’t even on the Cardinals’ roster. After struggling at the plate over his first 23 games in the big leagues, he’d been sent back to the team’s alternate training site in Springfield, Missouri, where he began the shortened 2020 season. Now, on the final day
Two weeks ago,
Now, on the final day of September, he batted cleanup in the Wild Card series -- and made history in the process.
The top-ranked Cardinals prospect went 2-for-3 with two walks to help the Cardinals to a 7-4 victory over the Padres in the opener of the best-of-3 series at Petco Park. He doubled and scored a pair of runs.
There was no shortage of nerves for Carlson leading into the game, as he joked that "it was a little tough getting to bed" the night before. But as the youngest player on the St. Louis roster, he had plenty of people around him with extensive postseason experience to keep him cool.
"There was definitely a lot of excitement around this one specifically," he told reporters after the game. "But you know, a great group of veteran guys in there that definitely keep you level and keep you going. Just following their lead and being able to be around them is definitely a huge advantage for me."
Carlson was part of an early eruption by the Cardinals offense, kicked off by
Dylan Carlson doubles— Minor League Baseball (@MiLB) September 30, 2020
Dylan Carlson scores pic.twitter.com/Px4OC7JuLW
"We wanted to come out, make a statement, score some runs early," Carlson said. "Goldy had a great at-bat, came up there, knew what he was looking for and did some damage. So for me, I was just going up there trying to execute my plan, and he threw some pitches I could handle and I got some swings off."
After a quick second inning, Carlson came up again with one out in the third. MLB Pipeline’s No. 14 overall prospect was the catalyst this time as he singled to left off Paddack and scored two batters later on a knock by DeJong.
Carlson walked against Craig Stammen in the fourth and stole second but was stranded when Molina struck out. He drew another free pass and advanced to third in the sixth, but Carpenter went down swinging to again leave him on base. The 2016 first-round pick struck out against Garrett Richards in his final at-bat in the eighth.
The performance put Carlson on several pages in the record books. At 21 years and 343 days old, he’s the third-youngest player in Cardinals history to reach base four times in a postseason game, joining Joe Garagiola (1946) and Stan Musial (1942). He’s also the third player 21 or younger to bat cleanup for the team in the postseason, joining Musial and
Not all of his contributions came offensively, however. He made a number of great plays in left field, including a seventh-inning effort in which he laid out to rob Manny Machado of a hit -- and lost his hat.
Dylan Carlson getting it done at the plate AND in the field!pic.twitter.com/ovBMvIQVTN— Minor League Baseball (@MiLB) October 1, 2020
"[Center fielder Harrison Bader] told me before the play, 'Any ball, go for it.' He's got my back," Carlson said. "It just happened that right then and there the ball was hit, knew I was going to be aggressive on it, and luckily I was able to come up with it."
In 35 games since making his big league debut on Aug. 15, Carlson batted .200/.252/.364 with three homers, seven doubles, 16 RBIs and 11 runs scored. Since returning to the Majors on Sept.18, however, he’s hitting .308 with 11 RBIs and seven runs scored in 13 games.
The biggest adjustment hasn't come through any changes to his swing or anything mechanical, but rather just a relaxed mental approach.
"Just trusting myself, playing the game," Carlson said. "First time around, there was a lot going on, a lot of different voices, a lot of different things. The big thing for me to focus on was just being myself and playing my game."
Carlson spent four seasons in the Minors, putting together a .260/.350/.431 line. His most recent showing was easily his best as he hit .281/.364/.518 with 21 homers in 108 games with Double-A Springfield last year before earning a promotion to Triple-A Memphis, where he compiled a .361/.418/.681 line with five homers in 18 games.
In other action:
Rays 8, Blue Jays 2
Top Toronto prospect
A’s 5, White Sox 3
Third-ranked Chicago prospect
Astros 3, Twins 1
With a single in the fourth inning,
Braves 1, Reds 0 (13 innings)
No. 10 overall prospect
Yankees 10, Indians 9
Third-ranked Tribe prospect
Dodgers 4, Brewers 2
After Ryan Braun left with back discomfort, Brewers No. 22 prospect
Jordan Wolf is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter: @byjordanwolf.