What to expect from Corbin Carroll in MLB

Corbin Carroll is packing his bags. Included in that luggage: five impressive tools.

There is no doubting that the 22-year-old outfielder earned this late look with one of the most impressive Minor League campaigns of 2022. Carroll hit .307/.425/.610 over 93 games primarily with Double-A Amarillo and Triple- A reno this season. He added 24 homers and 31 steals in that span, making him one of eight 20-20 players in the Minors this season, and he could have possibly threatened for 30-30 — a club no Minor Leaguer has joined since Kyle Tucker and Luis Robert did it in 2019 — had he stuck it out with Reno, although we doubt he’s complaining.

Carroll’s 155 wRC+ (weighted by league) ranked 13th-best among 719 full-season qualifiers, and he was the only player in that group to bat at least .300 while walking at least 15 percent of the time.

It’s all the more impressive given that Carroll played only seven games in 2021 before suffering a season-ending shoulder injury on a swing for High-A Hillsboro, making this ascendant campaign essentially his first full Minor League season.

As good as the 5-foot-10, left-handed slugger has been with his hitting tool, his best grade comes attached to his plus-plus speed. He has eclipsed the elite Sprint Speed ​​barrier of 30 ft/sec on the basepaths 28 times since joining Reno on July 9, and he’s used those wheels to stay aggressive with 11 steals in 13 thefts.

Carroll’s speed, along with his above-average arm strength, makes him a center-field candidate in Arizona, although fellow rookie Alek Thomas might have something to say about that. The D-backs have given their top prospect looks in both outfield corners, and he should cover plenty of ground in either spot should the club decide to keep Thomas in the middle of the grass.

If there are questions about how Carroll’s profile will play straight away in the Majors, they are most likely to come from the perspective of his power.

The Washington native’s .610 slugging percentage certainly pops off the page, and indeed, he is one of only eight full-season qualifiers to slug at least .600 this season. However, Amarillo and Reno have two of the most hitter-friendly ballparks in all of Minor League Baseball, and Carroll has the splits to reflect that. He’s batted an astonishing .335/.454/.693 in home games this season, compared to a still-solid .280/.398/.532 on the road between Double-A and Triple-A.

His max exit velocity in the Pacific Coast League came just this week on a 112.2 mph homer that traveled 463 feet on Thursday in Sacramento. He hadn’t posted an exit velocity above 108.1 mph in Triple-A before that. His 47.8 percent hard-hit rate (ie percentage of batted balls at 95-plus mph) would place him in the 89th percentile of the Majors, although that doesn’t account for the difficulty in hitting Major League pitching vs. in Triple-A. Carroll could still have a chance to make enough consistent hard contact to make his pop be at least average at the top level.

Carroll’s late callup likely means he will still be rookie-eligible heading into 2023. Even if he struggles a bit out of the gate as so many first-year players have this season, he still has ample tools to make himself a National League Rookie of the Year favorite come next spring.

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