As we take a small break from the doldrums of Mariners rumors on the hot stove league, we look at the arguably the most talented arm in a quickly improving farm system.
In a system loaded with starting pitching prospects, most of who are close to big-league ready, the Mariners have no shortage of names to consider as the best arm in the system. But perhaps the best arm is the one nobody is talking about.
Taken in the second round the same year the team selected Evan White, RHP Sam Carlson from Minnesota was the more celebrated selection of the year. Viewed as a first-round talent, Seattle worked hard to ensure they could select Carlson in the second and get him to sign.
But disaster struck early for the 18-year-old and his professional career hit its first snag before it began. Carlson has missed most of the past 2 years with elbow issues, which included a Tommy John Surgery and recovery.
But now healthy and ready to attack pro ball as a 21-year-old, Carlson will have a good chance to start his journey in A-ball West Virginia and begin his march to the big leagues. What makes Carlson so special? His stuff.
Coming out of high school, Carlson was as advanced as most prep arms could ever hope to be. He already had 3 above-average offerings, all of which have a chance to be plus. Carlson also had advanced command and was such a good athlete, he was likely going to get a chance to play the outfield and pitch at the college baseball blue blood, the University of Florida.
The most impressive note on Carlson was his feel for the changeup, a pitch most prep arms need to learn to use effectively. Carlson not only had feel for it, but it was arguably his best pitch. Considering he also posses a mid-90s fastball with run and a sharp slider.
Carlson will need to stay healthy and adapt back to pitching competitively in 2020, which could skew his numbers. But a healthy Carlson is what is most important. A 3 pitch mix that all have the chance to be plus, with the above-average command is a rare commodity.
Add that to his 6’4″, 200 lbs frame and natural athleticism, and Carlson could very well be a prospect with helium in prospect ranks. Based on raw stuff, Carlson may only trail Logan Gilbert, but if both are healthy, it gives Seattle a potentially dynamic 1-2 punch.
2020 is all about restarting his career and staying healthy. But if he can achieve those two goals, a trip to Seattle may not be out of the question late in 2021. The Mariners need prospects to pop and exceed expectations. And if you were going to bet on any talent to do, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better bet than Sam Carlson.