HUMMEL ON EXPECTATIONS IN THE OUTFIELD:
Ultimately it depends on how long it takes Dylan Carlson to reach the expectations heaped upon him from outside and certainly from within the organization, although club executives are hesitant to say too much too soon. The switch-hitting Carlson projects best as a corner outfielder, and the 21-year-old was not at all overmatched for much of spring training as he hit close to .400 with power and was on base half of the time before he tailed off at the end, as his playing time did, also. But if he were to stay up, he would have to play.
If the Cardinals don’t view him as a regular yet, they should send him back to the second summer camp in Springfield, Mo., to be on alert for the call that is sure to come. The Texas League Player of the Year, Carlson tore up the Pacific Coast League for three weeks last season, hitting .361 in 18 games with five home runs.
Dexter Fowler, who is making $17.5 million this year and next, will get the benefit because of his experience — and his salary — and will start in right field. Harrison Bader, who dipped to .205 after batting .260 the year before, showed better plate discipline this spring. The Cardinals don’t have anything close to him defensively in center.
Lane Thomas performed solidly in the spring, and Tyler O’Neill had his moments and either could be a starter, with O’Neill more likely because he did well batting fourth for the Cardinals last season when Marcell Ozuna was out with a finger injury.
Bader has the pluses of power and speed. He could be a 20-20 man in a typical full season if he could stay in the lineup often enough to hit 20 homers. O’Neill also runs well, and Thomas runs at a better than average clip. But O’Neill has big strikeout numbers in his brief résumé, as does Bader. The 34-year-old Fowler had bad numbers this spring, batting just .097 in 31 at-bats.