OF Chris Carlson
24 years old – 5’9″, 180 pounds
Draft: Round 28, 2014
Carlson is a a great under-the-radar name to keep an eye on throughout 2016. The type of player that won’t get much love in terms of top-prospect love due to his age and draft round, but all he’s done is produce since joining the Blue Jays organization in 2014.
Drafted out of California Polytechnic State University, the college outfielder played 56 games for the Vancouver Canadians in 2014, batting .312 with a fantastic .409 OBP. With 36 walks and only 25 strikeouts, it’s clear he comes with a mature and advanced plate approach. This is something he explained to Brian Crawford of JaysProspects.com in a great profile here.
“When I’m in the batter’s box I just try to not do too much,” Carlson said. “If you do that the pressure is on the pitcher to make good pitches. If he doesn’t I just try to take advantage of it any way I can.”
Carlson took another step forward in 2015 over a full season (106 games) with the Lansing Lugnuts. While his batting average took a moderate step back to .290, the lefty’s slugging percentage ballooned over 50 points to .437. His seven home runs were a nice surprise after zero the year prior, and Carlson tossed in 15 stolen bases for good measure. Continuing with his excellent plate approach, he managed 52 walks with just 42 strikeouts.
He’s been used in the corner outfield positions thus far and will be overshadowed by more dynamic names like Anthony Alford, D.J. Davis or Dwight Smith Jr. He may be blocked by some combination of those names, as well, but I’m confident in his ability to hit regardless of where he lands in 2016. His height is often held against him, but the numbers above should take up a larger part of the conversation.
***UPDATE: Some unfortunate news here, as Carlson’s Minor League bio lists him as being on the ‘Voluntarily Retired List’. An unexpected development for a player coming off two strong seasons, but we wish him the best with his next step off the field.
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