Looking at how Samad Taylor and Max Castillo are doing with the Royals since the Whit Merrifield Trade
Photo credit:Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
4 months ago
Last season, the Toronto Blue Jays added Whit Merrifield at the trade deadline to give the club some added depth across the field, as the South Carolina product could slot in at second base, first base, and all the outfield spots as needed. With the Jays looking to make a deep postseason run, Merrifield was helpful late in the season, as the righty-batter posted a .281/.323/.446 with 10 extra-base hits, 15 RBIs, and a .769 OPS while splitting time at second base and in the outfield.
That play has carried over into the 2023 season, as Merrifield currently owns a .729 OPS with nine doubles, one home run, and 11 stolen bases, which currently leads the Blue Jays squad. Defensively, Merrifield has the most reps at second base (18) and is the club’s left fielder when Daulton Varsho is out of the lineup or moved to centre field. He is currently earning $7 million this season and has a mutual option worth $18 million next season but so far, the Merrifield acquisition has worked well in the Jays’ favour.
To make the deal happen, Ross Atkins and co. sent Samad Taylor and Max Castillo to the Royals, with Taylor ranked at #16 on the Jays’ top prospect rankings prior to the trade. With the 2023 season underway, let’s see how the two prospects are faring with their new club.
At the time of the trade, Taylor was suiting up in Triple-A with the Buffalo Bisons and was sporting a .258 batting average with nine home runs and 23 stolen bases. Taylor was splitting his time between second base and left field and had just two errors through 528 innings but was on the injured list at the time of the trade and didn’t suit up with the Royals Triple-A affiliate to finish out the year. The California product finished out the year in the Arizona Fall League but struggled at the plate, going 10 for 66 with 10 RBIs.
This offseason, the Royals added Taylor to the 40-man roster to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft and Taylor made a strong case this spring to make the Opening Day roster (.360 average, two home runs, and a 1.174 OPS) but he was sent to Triple-A Omaha to start the year. So far this year, Taylor is making a strong case for a callup, as the right-handed batter owns a .299/.374/.417 slash line with seven doubles, two triples, two home runs and a .790 OPS through 144 at-bats, adding 17 stolen bases as well. He has spent most of the season at second base, amassing a .971 fielding percentage, while also spending time in centre field with one outfield assist.
Taylor currently ranks at #21 on the Royals’ top prospect list but is currently blocked by Michael Massey, the club’s primary second baseman this year. If the former Blue Jays prospect can continue to put the ball in play like he is doing in Triple-A, it is only a matter of time before Taylor is in the big leagues.
Castillo really blossomed for the Blue Jays last season, as the right-hander quickly rose from Double-A to Triple-A early in the season and pitched his way onto the Jays roster, being called up on June 19th. While he rode the options train last year for the Jays, Castillo authored a 3.05 ERA through nine outings (two starts) with seven earned runs allowed compared to 20 strikeouts as well as a 0.968 WHIP.
When the trade occurred, Castillo was in Triple-A and he stayed in the Royal’s farm system until mid-August, making a spot start before being optioned back down to Omaha. The Venezuelan product would rejoin the roster throughout September, splitting time between the two leagues because of his options, and finished the year with a 9.16 ERA through five outings (four starts), struggling to a 6.00 FIP while allowing 23 hits and 10 walks through 18 2/3 innings with the Royals.
Castillo was looking for a spot on the Royals’ Opening Day roster but struggled through his four outings, allowing seven earned runs through 5 2/3 innings with shaky command (four walks) with seven strikeouts. He would be optioned to Triple-A to begin the year and has spent most of the season in Omaha, pitching to a 6.66 ERA through five starts. Castillo was recently recalled to the big league squad and so far has made two relief appearances as the club’s long reliever, allowing eight hits and three earned runs through seven innings. Working with a four-seam fastball, slider, and changeup, Castillo has amassed a 6.4 K/9 but has struggled with his command, allowing five walks and seeing his WHIP rise to 1.857 through his two outings.
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