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PHOENIX - Look at the first four hitters in the Rangers' lineup, and you'll see a ton of offensive firepower, star power and lots of money. Marcus Semien hits leadoff. He's got a seven-year, $175 million contract and has finished third in MVP voting twice. Corey Seager sits in the two-hole. His deal is 10 years and $325 million. He's a four-time All-Star and World Series MVP who has also finished third in MVP voting. 

The cleanup man is usually Adolis García, though he's been moved to third for Game 3. He's a two-time All-Star and started the Midsummer Classic this season. He's averaged 32 homers and 99 RBI in his three full seasons. His star his risen significantly this postseason, as he's had a streak of five straight games with a home run and has already set a record with 22 RBI. Don't forget about the walk-off homer in Game 1. 

It's a group of titans. Semien and Seager are very-well known among casual fans and García has arguably been the biggest star of the playoffs. 

And then there's the third hitter: Evan Carter (he's been moved to cleanup for Game 3). He wasn't even in the majors when the calendar turned to September. The Rangers and their opponent in this series, the Arizona Diamondbacks have combined for one World Series title. The D-backs won it in 2001. Carter wasn't even born yet. 

Carter joined the fray in 2023 due to his raw skills and excellent polish as a baseball player, of course, but also with a dash of serendipity. 

It was Sept. 8 when the reeling Rangers had lost 15 of their last 19 games and now we're facing an injured list stint from García. They decided to promote Carter from the minors. 

It's not like Carter didn't have the talent. He was a second-round pick out of high school and rose to Double-A at age 19. He was flashing good power-speed skills along with elite on-base ability in the minors. CBS Sports prospect guru R.J. Anderson had Carter ranked 24th on his top 50 prospects entering the season. It's just that, when he was promoted to the majors, he had only played in eight Triple-A games. His last game in Double-A was Aug. 27, exactly two months before hit he third in World Series Game 1.

"I mean, that feels like three years ago at this point," Carter said of being in Double-A this season. "Time's flown by. It's crazy that it's almost November now. This is the farthest I've ever played baseball before. But where else would you rather be?

"This is every ball player's dream. This is where you want to be at and the stage you want to play on. So, gosh, how fun is this? This is great."

It's awfully tough to skip Triple-A on the way to the majors. Only a few -- namely Juan Soto -- excelled right out of the gate after doing so. 

Carter appears to be putting his name alongside Soto, because he didn't need any adjustment period. 

The Rangers lost that first night after Carter's promotion, but then ripped off 12 wins in their next 16 games. He was central to the run, hitting .349 with a ridiculous .772 slugging percentage in those 16 games. He three doubles, a triple, four homers and 10 RBI in just 43 at-bats. 

"He had great composure up there at the plate, out in left field," manager Bruce Bochy said when asked what has impressed him so far with Carter. "His age, and to be on this stage, and it's not a big deal to him. He's not in awe of anything. We said he plays with no fear. He's just a special kid, I think, that's going to have a tremendous career.

"He's only going to get better on all facets of the game but, more importantly, is the makeup of the kid, he's got that mental toughness you love."

Carter is a good example of how the Rangers might have plenty of highly-compensated, well-known veterans, but also an assortment of quality youngsters or lesser-known veterans filling around the big names. For every Seager or Semien or Max Scherzer or Nathan Eovaldi, there's a Josh Jung or Jonah Heim or Mitch Garver or Evan Carter. 

No moment has been too big for Carter. He didn't even make an out in his first playoff game, going 2 for 2 with two doubles and two walks. He homered in his second playoff game. He broke a scoreless tie with an RBI double in Game 1 of the ALDS. On and on we could go, because Carter has gotten a hit in 13 of his 14 playoff games. The one game he didn't get a hit (Game 2 of the ALCS), he reached via a walk. He doubled twice in Game 1 of the World Series. 

Add it all up and the 21-year-old Carter has hit .313/.431/.542 with eight doubles, a homer, six RBI and nine runs now in his playoff career. In his 23 regular-season games, he hit .306/.413/.645 with four doubles, a triple, five home runs, 12 RBI and 15 runs. 

"Every one has been bigger than the next so far this year," Carter said of all his big moments. "It's a ton of fun. It gets your blood pumping. But you just try and calm down. It's definitely a dream come true."

Much like the run where they turned their season around, Carter will be integral to the Rangers championship, should they pull of the World Series win. How amazing would that be from a kid -- slotted among titans of the game -- who started the season in Double-A and didn't even get to Triple-A until Aug. 29?