If there’s one player in the Jays organization that I think could immediately help the Blue Jays this season, it’d be Samad Taylor.
The 23-year-old position player is quite an intriguing prospect. He blends speed, power, hitting with versatility to boot. The Jays could definitely use him on their team.
This season, Taylor is slashing .262/.344/.421 with five homers in 248 plate appearances for a wRC+ of 104. He’s followed up an impressive 2021 (which I wrote about here) with another impressive season against more advanced pitchers. He also leads the Bisons with 43 RBIs.
Taylor hit 16 homers in 374 plate appearances last season, but his seven homers rank tops for the Bisons. It’s also notable that the jump between Double A and Triple A is one of the toughest jumps in the minors. He’s also hit for a solid average, as that’s sitting at .262 (down from .294).
Most impressively however, is what he does once he reaches base. This season, he has attempted 27 steals and has been successful 23 times. In fact, that number leads the International League and would be second in all of Triple A once you include the Pacific Coast League.
How has Taylor improved:
Although his home run totals and average have dropped, there are signs that the 23-year-old speedster has certainly improved. Here’s a quote from Fangraphs’ preseason bio regarding Taylor:
“[Taylor] isn’t strong enough at present to replicate his 2021 [home run] numbers. In that context, his swing decisions loom as a big concern. He’s both passive and prone to swinging and missing.”
That begs the question, why was Fangraphs so harsh on Taylor?
Last season with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, he posted a .294/.385/.503 slash line with 16 homers for a wRC+ of 141. Pretty great, right? However, Fangraphs was hinting at Taylor’s rather high K% of 29.4%. Even in 2019, it was still at a rather high 27.9%.
While his offensive stats have taken a little bit of a dip, his K% has dropped to 20.97%. This is a huge drop against much tougher opponents, some of which have MLB experience.
When I asked Taylor about his drop in K%, he answered with this.
“Being more selective in the box has helped me a lot. I’m not trying to hit every pitch, and sticking with the plan is the big thing.”
His speed is insane:
I alluded to Taylor’s 23 stolen bases in 27 attempts, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. Samad Taylor is a menace on the bases. Here are a few examples.
The thread above is Samad Taylor manufacturing a run by himself. First, he bunts for a base hit which his speed allows him to do successfully. He follows that up by stealing both second and third, before a sac fly scores him. This is Rickey Henderson-esque.
Every catcher in the International League knows that once Taylor gets on the bases, there’s a good chance he’ll be stealing. Sometimes, it causes the backstop to panic and throw it away, which leads to an extra 90 feet.
Here’s Taylor stealing home, which is just peak menace.
Lastly, we have Taylor’s defensive versatility. This season, he’s only played second base (282.2 innings) and left field (174.1 innings), where he’s only made one error between them.
However, last season with the Fisher Cats, Taylor spent significant time at shortstop (42.1 innings, no errors), third base (92 innings, two errors), and centre field (71 innings, no errors) on top of playing left field and second.
From an outside observer, it seems as if the Blue Jays development staff wants him to focus on those two positions. However, moving around the field once he makes the majors certainly isn’t out of the question.
When I asked him what position he feels more comfortable playing at, he gave me this answer:
“Playing all over the field is what I love to do! I’m truly comfortable wherever I play honestly. In the outfield, it’s just running and catching the ball. In the infield, it’s just been a lot of hard work, but it’s been hard work everywhere I have played!”
So when can we see Taylor in the bigs:
If it were up to me, he would have been called up back in April. I believe that his speed and positional versatility would help this team immensely. When you add in solid raw power (21 homers the past two seasons) and his ability to avoid striking out, there is truly a five tool player in Taylor.
With Otto Lopez and Vinny Capra getting the call up before Taylor, this leads me to believe that it’s possible they want to see him adjust to high level pitching for all of 2022.
With that being said, Samad Taylor is a prospect that everyone should keep an eye on, because he’s MLB ready and could really help the Blue Jays.
As always, you can follow me on Twitter @Brennan_L_D. Big thanks to Samad for giving me the time of day. One of the nicest people I’ve ever talked to, and you can follow him on Twitter @SamadTaylor7. He hit two home runs the day I wrote this.