The SF Giants drafted Carter Aldrete out of Arizona State University in the 15th round of the 2019 MLB Draft. With his first full season of professional baseball interrupted, how is he adjusting?
For obvious reasons, infielder Carter Aldrete wasn’t the player most people discussed during his time at Arizona State University. While Aldrete was a day one starter for one of the strongest programs in the Pac-12, teammates Spencer Torkelson and Hunter Bishop dominated headlines with their tape-measure home runs.
The Monterrey, California native finished his college career with a respectable .282/.344/.424 line, but headed into the 2019 MLB draft ranked as just the 318th best prospect by Baseball America. Still a versatile defender with a solid track record at a top program, Aldrete seemed like the type of prospect who’d slide up draft boards as teams targetted system depth. Instead, he fell to the 15th round, where the SF Giants nabbed him with the 446th overall pick.
After signing, Aldrete debuted in the Arizona League and was pretty quickly promoted to Low-A Salem-Keizer. In his first taste of pro ball, he did what he always had, be productive, posting a solid .750 OPS.
Every scouting report will make sure to mention his versatility. Primarily a shortstop in high school, Aldrete played mostly second base and right field for the Sun Devils but moved all around. He has the arm to handle any spot on the infield with enough range to be competent in the outfield as well.
At the plate, he has a knack for working long at-bats and a fair share of walks. While it’s yet to consistently play in games, he flashes plus raw power too. The SF Giants player development staff will hope to convert that strength into double-digit home run totals.
In a wide-ranging interview with Around the Foghorn, Aldrete discussed his family background, development on the field, and his off-field dreams. With his first full season as a professional baseball player interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, he’s working out at Push Performance in Scottsdale, Arizona.
You won’t find a description of Aldrete that doesn’t mention his family’s baseball background. His father, Rich Aldrete, played with Giants minor league affiliates from 1987-1991 and performed well at Double-A and Triple-A. More notably, Mike Aldrete (Carter’s uncle) had a 10-year MLB career, which included three seasons in San Francisco. Today, Mike is the first-base coach for the Oakland Athletics.
Of course, with that family background came a particular pressure, “When you grow up in a baseball family the expectations are huge. Everyone thinks you’re going to be a first-rounder out of high school and then if that doesn’t happen, everyone thinks you’re going to be a first-rounder out of college,” Carter explained.
The Aldrete family’s athletic pedigree doesn’t stop at baseball. Carter Aldrete’s sister, Annie was a catcher for Team USA’s softball team after an illustrious college career at Cal and Tennessee. Most of Carter’s cousins played Division-1 athletics.
In fact, Carter himself once split his athletic talents between multiple venues, “My junior year of high school, I was completely sold on playing college football,” he said. He took recruiting trips to the University of Washington, USC, Stanford, and other Pac-12 schools interested in him for both baseball and football.
“I was going to be a dual-sport athlete and I still remember the day I took my recruiting trip to USC,” Aldrete explained how that changed things, “They introduced me to a defensive lineman and I looked at him and I was just like ‘I don’t really know if I’m going to play football anymore.'”
Aldrete ultimately decided to dedicate himself to baseball in lieu of pursuing a career at quarterback. He doesn’t regret that decision.
His athleticism allowed him to move all-around the field at Arizona State and could one day be a source of value for a big-league club. However, even the Giants were surprised by how much he could do at certain positions, “I was playing a lot of second base, third base, and towards the end, shortstop. They were surprised I was playing shortstop at the level I was playing at,” Aldrete said, “From that day forward I said, ‘I have to move like a shortstop.'”
Without a minor-league season, Aldrete has tried to compensate for the lack of game time with a particular focus on his physique, “I’m pushing my body to limits I haven’t and probably wouldn’t be able to at this point in the year because we’d just be getting to the end of our season,” he said. Hoping to prove to the Giants he can handle extensive time at shortstop, Aldrete is focusing on his agility, explosiveness, and hip mobility.
Everywhere he’s gone, Aldrete’s performed. Some guys just always live up to the moment. It’s easy to overlook that in the modern world of baseball where front offices search the league for tools their analytics led coaches can maximize. But sometimes it’s not that complicated. Some players just find a way to make an impact.
They have different skillsets, but Mike Yastrzemski‘s prospect status wasn’t too far removed from Aldrete’s at this point in his career. Neither were dominating forces in college, but both were significant contributors for the entirety of their careers at elite college programs. Of course, they both have those baseball bloodlines too.
After falling in the draft, Aldrete has a new chip on his shoulder, “I went in the 15th round and to me… I’m way more valuable than that… So when I got drafted and I [showed] up in the AZL, I [told] myself I’m going to be the best 15th rounder to ever play,” he said.
In his first taste of professional baseball last year, Aldrete found a way to pursue his off-field dreams as well. “My second love is cutting hair… During the season it’s been a great, easy, and fun way to make money and connect with my teammates… When I was in Salem, I was cutting 9-10 guys a week before games,” he explained.
He hopes to one day open up a barbershop, but in the meantime, baseball remains the top priority. Aldrete can’t wait to get back on a minor league field. To him, it doesn’t matter whether he’s from a baseball bloodline or not. It doesn’t matter where he was drafted. When he steps on a minor-league field, “This is my sanctuary where I get to prove myself. It’s on me. Now it’s time to perform and be the best baseball player I can be.”
You can follow Carter Aldrete on Twitter @carterroo21