Baseball Prospectus has a piece up today that highlights ten prospects who didn’t make the BP top 101 list for 2021, but who they think have the potential to shoot up the rankings and make the list a year from now. Interestingly, the Texas Rangers have a player on the list...and it is one of the most controversial prospects in their system, 2020 second rounder Evan Carter.
Carter, you know doubt recall, was a completely out-of-nowhere pick by the Rangers this past summer, a 17 year old outfielder from Elizabethton, Tennessee, who most folks who follow amateur ball closely hadn’t even heard of. There was much mockery of the pick, with a lot of fans assuming that the Rangers were having money problems and were taking guys who would sign for peanuts in order to save money (that wasn’t the case — the Rangers used their entire draft bonus pool). The organization expressed confidence in the selection after the fact, saying they felt this is someone who would have been on everyone’s board had COVID not canceled the 2020 high school seasons, and that they felt this is someone they were simply ahead of the curve on.
That explanation was, of course, sneered at by many, with there being scoffing that the team was being too cute and should just take the top guy on the consensus boards, rather than reaching for someone nobody had heard of. The fact that the Kansas City Royals were reportedly prepared to take Carter in the third round (and the Royals’ third round pick was ahead of the Rangers’ pick, meaning that Texas couldn’t expect him to be available in the third round) didn’t change many minds on the issue.
Carter was part of the Rangers’ Instructional League team, and despite being one of the youngest players in Arizona at Instructs, word is he turned a lot of heads around baseball with his performance at the plate. BP specifically says he “absolutely destroyed the ball against a higher level of arm” than usually is at Instructs, in noting that he could be “on the national scene as soon as next season.”
Baseball Prospectus also had four Rangers on their top 101 list, for what it is worth, and the note on Carter is eye-opening, but as we all know, he’s going to have to show that he can do it once the 2021 season starts. That being said, it is sounding more and more like Carter may start the year in full season ball, rather than playing in the complex league...and if Carter performs in A ball as an 18 year old, the questions about taking him in the second round are going to end up being moot.