Carter sent down, but MLB callup could be looming

March 11th, 2023

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- There’s a general consensus around the Rangers' clubhouse this spring, from coaches to veteran players alike: looks and plays like he belongs.

Carter was sent down to Minor League camp prior to the Rangers' 8-7 win over the Reds on Saturday, but he’s no doubt made an impression, and he may be closer to his MLB debut than anybody thought before the start of Spring Training.

“I'd say as much as anything, [what’s stood out] is how much I think he feels that he belongs,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “He's got quiet confidence. I never saw him nervous or anything like that. You can see it with his plate discipline. It was good for him to play in a lot of games. I told him, ‘I probably abused you.’ I took him on every trip and he played about every game.

“He was getting more and more comfortable. But it's time for him to get ready to get his three or four at-bats [a game]. He's a young kid. He still needs to learn a lot. I think that's fair to say. We all never stop learning in every facet of the game, so he’ll go down and do that.”

Carter, MLB’s No. 41 overall prospect, went 3-for-11 with seven walks in 14 Cactus League games this spring. It comes after he slashed .295/.397/.489 with 21 doubles, 10 triples, 12 home runs, 28 steals and 73 RBIs in his first full season in the Minors in 2022 between High-A Hickory and Double-A Frisco. He also was a 2022 Minor League Gold Glove Award winner in center field and was the Rangers' Minor League Player of the Year.

Being around big leaguers day in and day out has strengthened Carter's belief that he can be in MLB sooner rather than later. Throughout camp, he spent time picking the brains of veterans Corey Seager and Brad Miller.

“Without getting around them and getting the feel of it all, [the Majors] feels a little bit further away,” Carter said. “And then once you get here, they're just normal dudes who are just really good at baseball. So I kind of feel a little bit like I'm at home. Like I’m not out of place.”

Ranked as Texas' No. 2 prospect, he’ll likely be the club's top prospect when Josh Jung graduates weeks into the 2023 big league season, and some within the organization believe Carter should’ve been No. 1 before that.

Despite all the success and praise early on, Carter knew it was a long shot for him to make the big league roster out of camp, no matter what type of performance he put on.

“I’m realistic,” Carter said. “I'm not going to come in and say I should make the team. I'm 20 years old, only a few games in Double-A. I'm a realistic person. So do I deserve to make the team? Like, no, I just wanted to learn as much as I can and grow as a player and grow as a person. That's all I really expected.”

With Carter’s tools and instincts, Bochy believes he has what it takes to be a quality big leaguer eventually.

“He’s close,” Bochy said. “Well, he'll let us know, I've said that before. I think you're looking at what he has as far as plate discipline, he controls the strike zone very well as far as swinging at balls and strikes. Sometimes, maybe you want him to be a little more aggressive at times. That's just who he is. [Plate discipline] is probably the hardest thing to teach young players. So with that said, that makes him, I think, really close. Because he's not a chaser up there. He's a good center fielder. He's only going to get better as he learns to play with these guys. He’s fast and can be a really good baserunner.”