What to expect from Rangers top prospect Carter in bigs

September 8th, 2023

Evan Carter needed just three years to go from stunning second-round pick to the big leagues, and it's a testament to his talent that the Rangers will give him regular playing time as they fight for their playoff lives.

With Adolis García going on the injured list after straining the patellar tendon in his right knee on Wednesday, Texas needed outfield reinforcements. It turned to Carter, ranked No. 8 on MLB Pipeline's Top 100 Prospects list and No. 1 on the Rangers' Top 30 Prospects list, and plans on starting the left-handed hitter against right-handed pitchers.

Few teams scouted Carter much as an amateur because he attended few showcase events and the pandemic ended his 2020 senior season at Elizabethton (Tenn.) HS after three games. When the Rangers selected him in the second round, none of the commentators on MLB Network (this writer included) or ESPN knew who he was. But area scout Derrick Tucker and Texas' scouting department firmly believed he had five-tool potential, and they've been proven correct since he gave up a Duke commitment for an under-slot $1.25 million.

Despite all of his physical ability, Carter stands out most with his advanced skills at recognizing pitches and controlling the strike zone. He impressed the Rangers' big league staff during Spring Training, when he maintained his approach and drew seven walks in 18 plate appearances and earned the nickname "Full Count Carter" because of his knack for working deep counts.

"Evan is such a skilled hitter," Ross Fenstermaker, Texas assistant GM in charge of player development and international scouting, said in March. "He barrels balls so consistently, his approach is so good, we've seen it in big league games this spring. This dude doesn't miss pitches."

Carter's mature approach and ability to maintain should serve him well with the Rangers, who have lost 15 of their last 19 games to fall to third place in the American League West and a half-game out of the AL's final Wild Card spot. Despite playing through a wrist injury that hampered him in May and cost him three weeks in June, he hit .284/.411/.451 with 12 homers and 22 steals in 97 games in Double-A before getting promoted on Aug. 29, his 21st birthday. He hit .353/.436/.382 with three steals in eight Triple-A contests before Texas brought him to the Majors.

Carter has a sweet left-handed swing and doesn't try to do too much at the plate. He doesn't sell out for power, focusing on making contact and using the entire field. He's still a work in progress offensively, however, which is understandable given his youth.

Though Carter has the bat speed and the leverage in his 6-foot-2 frame to his 20 or more homers per season, he won't realize his power upside until he adds more strength and learns to pull and lift pitches more often. He's still figuring out how to solve southpaws after hitting .205 against them last season and slugging .284 against them this year. He has plus speed but is still learning the nuances of basestealing after getting caught 11 times in 37 attempts in 2023.

The Rangers don't need a fully finished Carter to help them make the postseason for the first time after six straight losing seasons. He should be able to at least hold his own against righties and also can help win games with his quickness and defense. He covers plenty as a center field and should be an asset in right field, where he'll fill in for García while Leody Taveras handles center for Texas.