OF depth looms with Martinez, O'Neill on mend

No. 2 prospect Carlson earns callup to Triple-A Memphis

August 16th, 2019

CINCINNATI -- The Cardinals outfield will be even deeper when the injured duo of Jose Martinez (right shoulder AC joint) and Tyler O’Neill (left wrist strain) return to the active roster -- which could be relatively soon, Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said Thursday.

Martinez was placed on the injured list Monday after colliding with the right-field wall Sunday. He is back in St. Louis as well, and Shildt said Martinez got some of the inflammation out of his shoulder, which has helped in his recovery.

“He’s got a chance to get a cortisone shot, which should speed up his return to activity,” Shildt said. “That’ll happen soon.”

O’Neill, who went on the injured list on Aug. 3 retroactive to Aug. 1, has worked off the pitching machine and has done flip drills back in St. Louis. With O'Neill taking longer than expected to recover from an injury sustained in an at-bat against the Cubs on July 31, Shildt said, “We’re in a more cautious mode with Tyler. He’s still a little bit self-limiting, which is fine, he’s being honest with how he’s feeling. He’s going to be in the early part of next week to have a little better idea of when he’ll be back playing again."

When those two are healthy, the Cardinals will be put in an interesting spot with playing time in the outfield. There’s Dexter Fowler and Marcell Ozuna, along with Randy Arozarena -- who went 2-for-4 in his Major League debut Wednesday and started again Thursday -- and Lane Thomas in center field. Plus, Harrison Bader is in Triple-A Memphis working on his swing, and the center fielder is 7-for-20 in his last five games.

“It’s interesting because we get asked about Thomas and Arozarena, we’ve got O’Neill and Jose coming off the IL relatively soon,” Shildt said. “We’d prefer Harrison up here, but fortunately for us and the organization, we have a lot of outfield depth. It’s an opportunity for Harrison to get those consistent at-bats like we put him down there for and get back and ready to go.”

Minor League report

Speaking of potential outfield depth, the Cardinals’ No. 2 prospect per MLB Pipeline, Dylan Carlson, was promoted from Double-A Springfield to Triple-A Memphis on Thursday. The 20-year-old switch-hitting outfielder tore up the Texas League this season; in 108 games, he led the league with 21 homers, 51 extra-base hits, 216 total bases, a .518 slugging percentage and 81 runs scored.

Thanks to a power surge this year, Carlson has risen to the No. 51 prospect in MLB Pipeline’s Top 100. He earned an invite to the Texas League All-Star Game and joined the Cardinals’ No. 1 prospect, Class A Advanced Palm Beach third baseman Nolan Gorman, at the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game earlier this summer.

Carlson will join the Redbirds for their series opener Thursday against the Iowa Cubs. He joins an outfield of Bader, Justin Williams and Adolis Garcia.

“[Carlson] had a nice year in Double-A, did everything he was supposed to,” Shildt said. “Played in the Futures Game. He’s getting an opportunity to go to Triple-A, but what [his playing time] looks like, it’s out of my pay grade.”