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Corbin Carroll: Champ or Chump for Fantasy Baseball?

Corbin Carroll - Fantasy Baseball Rankings, Draft Sleepers, MLB Injury News

With September on the horizon, fantasy managers have officially entered the stretch run. This is the time of year when your standings page should be dictating the moves you're making, as it often makes sense to drop a more talented player for one who contributes in key areas you can gain points. Your rivals are doing the same, so pay attention to who they're dropping in case they can help you.

That also means that you shouldn't be rostering players based on talent alone. With top prospect Corbin Carroll making his big league debut last night, the knee-jerk reaction is to immediately add him to your team. He was the 16th overall selection in the 2019 Amateur draft and the consensus number-three prospect in baseball for a reason, right?

Carroll is immensely talented and appears poised to make an immediate impact, but the type of impact he makes may not help some managers chase a title or finish in the money. Let's discuss the 22-year-old's fantasy viability in his first campaign further.

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A Scout's Perspective on Corbin Carroll

Spoiler alert: scouts love Carroll. FanGraphs seldom attaches high present-value grades to prospects this young but gives him a 55-hit tool and 70-grade speed, a combination that bodes well for Carroll's ability to contribute on the bases right away. His power grades are less impressive with 30 game power and 45 raw power, both of which are projected to climb to just 50 in the future. Overall, Carroll is listed with a future value of 60.

As optimistic as FanGraphs is, MLB.com likes Carroll even more. There, he has a 65-hit tool and 70-grade speed, with 50 power right now. His scouting report notes that "he may always have more of a hit-over-power profile, but there's enough pop in Carroll's left-handed bat to project him for double-digit home runs in the big leagues." That might temper his long-term outlook a little, but the mere mention of "plus-plus speed is a game-changing tool" should make fantasy managers salivate.


The Limited MiLB Resumé of Corbin Carroll

Like most prospects, Carroll lost the entire 2020 season to the COVID-19 pandemic. Unlike most prospects, Carroll suffered a significant shoulder injury that limited him to just seven games in 2021. As such, his MiLB performance this year is all the data we have on him.

Carroll began the year with Double-A Amarillo, slashing .313/.430/.643 with 16 HR and 20 SB over 277 PAs. He struck out a little more often than you'd like with a 24.5 K%, but his 14.8 BB% suggests an advanced plate approach that will serve him well at the highest level. He also flashed strong raw power with a 29.1% HR/FB, though his 34.2 FB% wasn't high enough to take full advantage of it. His .379 BABIP was high as well.

The performance earned Carroll a promotion to Triple-A Reno where he hit .287/.408/.535 with seven homers and 11 steals over 157 PAs. The final line isn't quite as eye-catching, but the peripherals suggest that Carroll was even better against the more advanced competition. His K% fell to 22.9 while his BB% increased to 15.3. He elevated more baseballs though his FB% fell to 31.5 because his LD% increased from 20.5 to 27.2. His BABIP stabilized at .345, and his raw power remained good with a 24.1% HR/FB.

With strong power production at both MiLB stops, you might be thinking that the scouting reports above are too harsh on his power. This author doesn't think so though and the reason why is that both are extremely hitter-friendly. HAGERSTOWN in Amarillo makes Coors Field look like a pitcher's park, posting a 151 runs factor, 228 HR factor, and 127 BABIP factor in its debut season of 2019.

Reno is more of a normal hitter's park with a 114 runs factor, 99 HR factor, and 113 BABIP factor from 2017 to 2019. However, it's also part of what used to be called the Pacific Coast League: a notoriously hitter-friendly circuit where even the relative pitcher's parks are ultimately hitter-friendly. Per Statcast, Chase Field in Arizona suppresses homers with an 89 HR factor while boosting BABIP with a 103 singles factor, so Carroll's pop figures to suffer.


How Will Corbin Carroll Fit into Arizona's Outfield?

If there's a downside to Carroll getting called up, it's that the Diamondbacks were already running out three viable fantasy outfielders in Jake McCarthy, Daulton Varsho, and Alek Thomas. Carroll is definitely getting called up to play, meaning that fantasy managers could be losing the services of one of the others. McCarthy has been scorching hot of late, so it probably won't be him. That leaves Varsho and Thomas, with the latter most likely to lose time in this author's estimation.

However, this could be a complete non-issue if Ketel Marte's hamstring allows him to return to the field, freeing up DH for an outfielder and removing someone like Geraldo Perdomo or Emmanuel Rivera from Arizona's lineup instead. Josh Rojas can play anywhere, so the team has lots of options.


The Final Verdict on Corbin Carroll

Carroll has an elite prospect pedigree, a history of producing on the farm, and an advanced plate approach, which should give him a relatively high floor as he makes his big league debut. He also has game-changing wheels and a strong understanding of how to swipe a bag, posting a success rate of 87% (20-for-23) at Double-A and 85% (11-for-13) at Triple-A this year. If you need batting average, OBP, or steals, Carroll is an easy Champ since he's only rostered in 32% of Yahoo! leagues.

However, scouts don't think Carroll offers any power now and feel that he might be a 10-15 HR type in the future, meaning that he makes less sense if you're searching for help in the power categories. Your league standings will determine if Carroll is a good fit for your roster.

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