ST. LOUIS – Luken Baker, a Cardinals prospect who leads minor league baseball with 33 home runs this season, has slugged his way back to the big leagues.

The Cardinals have recalled Baker from Triple-A Memphis for the third time this season. The 26-year-old first baseman previously joined St. Louis for short stints in June and July.

Baker earns another promotion as outfielder Dylan Carlson heads to the injured list with left oblique concerns. Baker is expected to join the team for Saturday’s matchup against the Kansas City Royals.

Baker was hitting .334 with 33 home runs and 98 RBI in just 84 games with Memphis this season. He’s enjoyed a surge since the start of August, crushing eight home runs with 21 RBI in just 10 minor-league games this month.

How Baker fits into the Cardinals lineup remains to be seen. He would likely slot into first base when reigning MVP Paul Goldschmidt gets a day off or slots into a designated hitter spot, but that isn’t often. Baker could see ample opportunities at DH if the Cardinals stick with a primary outfield of Tyler O’Neill, Lars Nootbaar and Jordan Walker while Carlson is injured.

President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak offered some insight into development plans for Baker and top hitting prospect Masyn Winn earlier this week, saying there’s a balancing act when it comes to bringing the best hitters up from the minors. The main consideration is: will they be better off in the long run gaining more confidence at Triple-A now or diving into challenges of the major leagues?

“Luken has experienced this, but he’s also someone that could benefit from spending a little more time in the big-leagues,” said Mozeliak via Bally Sports Midwest. “It’s a much different conversation when you’re trying to balance where Masyn is and his development stages.”

In his limited big-league opportunities so far, Baker is 5-for-19 (.263 batting average) with two runs scored. He is still waiting on his first MLB home runs and RBIs. He is ranked the Cardinals’ 19th best prospect, per MLB Pipeline.

The Cardinals enter Saturday with the National League’s second-worst record (51-66) and postseason hopes pretty much dashed for this season. Baker’s callup could be the first of many in upcoming months if St. Louis hopes to give prospects big-league experience before the end of the 2023 season.