Carter Holton entered last summer as a player who wasn’t front and center on professional scouts’ radars. It seemed more likely that the left-handed pitcher would attend college instead of jumping straight into the professional ranks after high school.
But after thriving on the showcase circuit last summer, Holton has solidified himself as one of the top prospects in the 2021 MLB draft. Numerous highly-regarded prep hitters in the 2021 class describe Holton as the best pitcher they faced last summer.
The Benedictine (Ga.) Military School senior has a quality fastball and breaking ball combination. He also has a deceptive arm slot that makes opposing hitters uncomfortable in the batter’s box.
Major league teams are intrigued by Holton’s present skills and potential. He projects as an early-round pick in July’s draft.
“It’s been something I have never experienced, but I can definitely tell it is somewhat different from previous years without COVID-19,” said Holton on the draft.
Holton is a 5-foot-11, 195-pound left-handed pitcher who throws from a three-quarters arm slot. He has a quick arm action and hides the ball well through his delivery to create deception. He throws a fastball, curveball, slider and changeup.
Holton mostly throws two-seamers due to its natural movement but occasionally mixes in four-seam fastballs. His fastball sits in the lows-90s with it occasionally hitting 95 mph.
For his curveball and slider, Holton uses one more than the other “depending on which one feels better that day,” he said. Typically, Holton will throw his slider to left-handed hitters and curveball to righties. He occasionally mixes in his changeup.
Overall, Holton attacks the strike zone with all of his offerings and does a solid job of sequencing his pitches.
“I think my competitiveness (is my biggest strength),” Holton said. “Anytime I go out there, I am going to compete no matter who I am playing or who I am playing with.”
Holton is taking a break from throwing after his busy summer. He plans on starting his throwing program at the end of December, he said.
This offseason, Holton wants to refine his secondary pitches in hopes of taking the next step in his development. He especially wants to develop more consistency and a better feel for his curveball and slider in anticipation for his senior year.
“I want to try to get my slider to bite a little better,” Holton said. “I need to move around grips and throwing it more in bullpens more.”
Besides being a top draft process, Holton also is a Vanderbilt University commit. Holton considered Vanderbilt, Georgia and Clemson throughout the recruiting process but ultimately committed to the Commodores as a sophomore in August 2018.
Vanderbilt’s coaching staff, facilities and track record of successfully developing talent for pro ball stood out to Holton, he said.
“I chose Vanderbilt because they are really good at what they do on the baseball side,” Holton said. “You can go there and get a great degree too, even if you never play baseball again, and be successful in life.”
Dan Zielinski III has covered the MLB draft for six years. He’s interviewed 253 of the top draft prospects in that period, including three No. 1 overall picks. Multiple publications, including Baseball America, USA Today, MLB.com and The Arizona Republic, have quoted his work, while he’s appeared on radio stations as a “MLB draft expert.” Follow him on Twitter @DanZielinski3.