It’s all about balance for second-baseman prospect Samad Taylor. Juggling the focus between his bat and his glove, the 20-year-old is looking to make an impact in 2019 and beyond.
Rising up the prospect depth charts, Taylor was acquired from Cleveland along with pitcher Thomas Pannone in the 2017 deadline trade for Joe Smith. Possibly an outstanding return for an upcoming free agent reliever.
He spent 2017 winning the Northwest League championship with the Vancouver Canadians and 2018 having a full season with the single-A Lansing Lugnuts.
His numbers don’t look sexy – a 2018 slash line of .228/.319/.387 – but Taylor is looking beyond that when it comes to his development.
“The routine things make great infielders, I believe that and I’m going to stand by it,” said Taylor, on lunch break at the Dunedin training facility.
An eye clearly on the future young core of the Jays, he focuses on what can make him force management’s hand into giving him a major league job in the future.
“[Infielders] make the great plays but the routine plays make the great infielder,” he said. “If you can make those routine plays, they’re going to find a spot for you on the field as an everyday player.”
Since a good portion of the 2018 Jays infield was played by, not infielders, having one that can make those regular plays is music to everyone’s ears.
The Jays search for an everyday second-baseman seemed to have been cemented at one point, but it has now continued. Taylor might still be a few years away, but if he is able to be a positive player on both sides of the game, everyone should be ecstatic.
No player wants negative attention, but it is extremely apparent that the second-baseman really does not want to be a defensive liability for his team.
“A pitcher is not going to like I guy they can’t trust defensively, so I want every guy I play behind to be able to trust me,” Taylor said.
Trusting him defensively is slightly difficult when he totaled 12 errors last season with Lansing, the second-most on the team behind shortstop Kevin Vicuna.
As always, there is a pinch of salt when it comes to defence and in the minor leagues. Taylor has always been the youngest player on his professional teams since he made his rookie ball debut in 2016 with Cleveland.
We can sometimes forget that we’re seeing something abnormal when it comes to the Jays’ top prospects, so considering that Taylor will be starting his 2019 season still at 20-years-old, it’s impressive.
He is certainly going into this new season with the right developmental mentality.
“Even though my offensive game is there,” Taylor said, “I can’t just be a one-sided ball player in my eyes.”
His offensive game certainly does not show up in his slash line, but Taylor was able to improve drastically in getting on base. His walk rate rose from just 6.4% in 2017 to 10.8% with the Lugnuts last season.
Meanwhile also lowering his strikeout rate from 23.8% in rookie ball and low-A, to 18.7% last season with Lansing. There are positive signs of someone that will not be a simple bat.
If Taylor is able to get on base, he poses even a bigger threat than most as well. Tying for second among all batters in the Midwest League last year in stolen bases, he possesses a knack for making the most out of any situation.
Last year, he was able to steal a total of 44 bases and was only caught stealing 16 times. Just another addition to some more numbers that are so telling what kind of player Taylor could become.
There is a possibility, that if Taylor is able to improve some of those raw offensive numbers in 2019, he could rocket up the prospect rankings and become one of the more hyped prospects in the Jays system. It certainly helps that his story and situation within the organization is so likable – a young infielder drafted out of high school and part of a trade that has already been considered a win for the Jays.
Taylor has his mind set on becoming an infielder that makes those routine plays and if it all pans out, this team would have another solid young piece for the future.