No. 1 prospect joins Rangers' playoff push

September 10th, 2023

This story was excerpted from Kennedi Landry’s Rangers Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

ARLINGTON -- "Kashmir" by Led Zeppelin echoed through Globe Life Field Friday as walked up to the batter’s box. The Rangers’ top prospect per MLB Pipeline, Carter looked around the ballpark, taking it all in as he prepared for his first at-bat in his big league debut. 

“I’m gonna be on cloud nine, kind of floating out there,” Carter said before the game. “I'm sure the legs are gonna be a little bit like jelly underneath me, but I'm really excited. I'm sure once the game gets going, everything will kind of ease out. Baseball is baseball no matter what level, so I'm just really excited.”

Carter proceeded to slap a leadoff single into right field and promptly steal second base one batter later. He finished 1-for-3 with a single, walk and stolen base, capping off the start of what he hopes is a long career with the Rangers. 

“I couldn't feel my legs in the first at-bat, but we got it out of the way, man, and I'm just beyond blessed,” Carter said postgame. “It was really good. They just kind of gave me a clear, ‘Hey, this is what we expect of you, and that’s just for you to go out there and play and be yourself.’ I’m thankful for that. I’m not trying to feel like I have to be somebody I'm not. I'm gonna stick with that because that's what's been working. … But I felt like I could run through a brick wall, to be honest, today.”

Carter learned of his callup on Thursday, when he and Triple-A Round Rock were in El Paso. The outfielder spent just under two weeks with the Express before getting the call. He said the big leagues were always in the back of his mind, but he wasn’t going to set a specific goal for himself to get there this year.  

“Obviously the goal is not to be a Minor Leaguer for your whole career,” Carter said. “You want to make the big league team and win a World Series, so, yeah, this is the first step to that. I'm really excited.”

Carter’s chance finally came when Texas had to place outfielder Adolis García on the 10-day injured list with a right patellar tendon strain, suffered in Wednesday night’s loss to the Astros.

Make no mistake, Carter earned the callup, though, even if an injury necessitated it coming quicker than anybody expected. He hit .284/.411/.451 with 12 homers and 22 steals in 97 games with Double-A Frisco. He was rewarded with a birthday promotion to Triple-A Round Rock on Aug. 29, where he slashed .353/.436/.382 with a double and three steals in just eight games. 

And now he’s playing on the biggest stage. 

“Evan has performed at both Double-A and Triple-A this year,” general manager Chris Young said. “He has an elite approach, strike zone awareness and control, and really fits the profile of a player that we think can have success at the Major League level. … We're very optimistic and excited about his future, and we think he makes the Texas Rangers better, both now and in the future. We're excited for his debut.”

There are levels to it though. Carter, just 21 years old, is being thrown into the thick of a pennant race, looking to help the Rangers reach the postseason for the first time since 2016.

Rangers manager Bruce Bochy said the coaching staff has emphasized to Carter that he doesn’t need to do too much. He doesn’t need to be a hero. He’s not here to be a savior of the franchise, but to be just one part of the team that can get Texas back to where it needs to be. No more, no less. 

“I want to just trust my style of play and what's gotten me here,” Carter said. “I want to trust in that and just not try to do too much. Just do what I can do, and hopefully that is going to help the team.

“Baseball is baseball, so just play my game. Don't go out there and do too much. Just my style of play is what they wanted up here, and they're not trying to ask me to do anything more than what I've been doing. That was kind of the message they gave me, and I'm excited to get after it.”

It’s often made up when athletes talk about their “haters” and the people that didn’t believe in them on their journey. Carter really had those. 

When Carter was taken with the No. 50 pick in the 2020 MLB Draft, nobody expected him to end up here only three years later. 

Now, he’s a big leaguer. 

“This is just the start of hopefully a long career. That's what I plan on,” Carter said. “It’s just a start to my tenure here with the Rangers on a winning ballclub, so I'm really excited. That's about all I have to say, I guess.”