Chris Taylor Scouting Report (2014)
Recently named a starter for the Triple-A All-Star Game, Chris Taylor was not the Mariners shortstop expected to break out in 2014. After a red-hot Spring Training, Brad Miller was the heir apparent whom the Mariners crowned Robinson Cano’s long-term double play partner. Instead, Miller stumbled his way to a sub-.200 batting average for the first two months of the season, leaving many to consider potential replacements. While Nick Franklin was the familiar option, Taylor was the revelation, torching the PCL and demonstrating unexpected pop. Miller is starting to right the ship in Seattle, but what do the Mariners have in Taylor?
Seattle selected Chris Taylor out of Virginia in the 5th round of the 2012 draft. The 23-year old was a teammate of 2011 M’s picks Danny Hultzen, John Hicks, and Steven Proscia, so Mariners scouts had plenty of looks at Taylor. Since his time in Charlottesville, he’s added strength to a wiry 6-foot-0, 190-pound frame, though the weight listing appears a little generous. He has some room to fill out, though added weight will affect his range in the field if he’s not careful.
At the plate, Taylor continues to adapt as he’s advanced through the system. Labeled a glove-first shortstop when drafted, he holds a .317 career batting average in the minors. The right-handed hitter has tightened up his swing movements, which start with a quiet set up. He begins with the bat resting on his shoulder before lifting his hands high and his back elbow higher causing his front shoulder to drop slightly. Since his hands have a farther distance to travel, big league velocity might leave him vulnerable inside. His weight is centered at contact, though his hard swing can leave him unbalanced at his follow through.
Taylor pulls the bat through the zone quickly, but a flat swing plane limits the backspin he can generate. Coupled with his body profile, he is at his best when he’s spraying the ball around the field with authority and finding the gaps rather than swinging for the fences, which lengthens his swing. He should top his season-high for home runs during his first tour of Triple-A, though his 19 doubles and six triples (to date) are more representative of his game going forward.
Possessing average speed, Taylor’s instincts improve his first step on the base paths. He nearly topped 40 steals last season and should swipe between 25-30 bases this season. As a big league regular, he projects for 20 steals.
Defensively, he makes all the plays expected of a Major League shortstop. His throws are crisp, leaving little doubt he can make plays deep in the hole. More smooth than flashy, he expands his range with his quickness and smart footwork, positioning himself behind the ball to play up his arm even more.
Tool Present Future Projected Role Second division starting shortstop or first division utility infielder Hitting Ability 45 50 Power 35 45 Speed 50 50 Fielding Ability 50 55 Arm 50 50
Owning Chris Taylor
Chris Taylor is not a tool shed and doesn’t demonstrate much untapped potential. Instead, he is a very fine baseball player whose all-around average skills play up due to a sound approach with few holes in his game. Taylor might follow the career path of Clint Barmes– steady defense and enough production at the plate to be a regular. The continued development of Chris Taylor’s hit tool will determine if he’ll settle into a starting or utility role.
At present, Brad Miller still provides a more compelling option at shortstop for the M’s. Taylor could compete with Willie Bloomquist for the utility spot in Seattle next spring or provide trade deadline ammunition for the Mariners’ surprising playoff push. If moved to an organization where he has a shot to start at short, Chris Taylor will have value in deep leagues like Reality Fantasy Baseball and AL/NL-only leagues. Taylor is worth keeping on watch lists for now, but be ready to strike next season, especially with a change in scenery.
10 Jul 2014 / Ben Flajole /
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