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2021 Draft Profile: Will Taylor

The 2021 MLB draft is scheduled to take place during the All-Star break in July. Between now and then we will be profiling several players who the Yankees may be considering. Predicting who a team will draft is a crapshoot, so hopefully if we profile enough players we’ll profile the one the Yankees take with their first round pick. You can view the full archive here. Today’s profile: Will Taylor.

Background

Taylor is a 6′-0″ 175 lb outfielder out of Dutch Fork High School in South Carolina. In addition to starring on the baseball diamond, as you can see in the photo above, he also plays football (and wrestles), though his professional future is likely in baseball. He has been recruited by Clemson for both baseball and football, though there are no reports out that he won’t sign with an MLB team that drafts him.

Performance

For some reason, I cannot find any stats on Taylor from high school, so instead we’ll rely on reports. According to Baseball America, he turned heads at the East Coast Pro showcase last August and has been moving up draft boards since. BA notes that his performance at East Coast Pro was on of the best all-around at the event. Here is some more recent video of him:

Scouts Take

For a multi-sport prospect, the reports on Taylor are more encouraging than usual, with the general consensus that he has more than just raw skills as a baseball player.

MLB Pipeline ranks him as the 27th overall prospect, and here is a snippet of their scouting report:

Taylor is more advanced than the typical multisport athlete who hasn’t devoted himself to baseball full-time and could get significantly better once he does. He has a loose right-handed swing and made consistent contact on the showcase circuit this summer, displaying the ability to make in-game adjustments against quality competition. The biggest question is how much impact he’ll have at the plate, though he does have some wiry strength and should develop into at least a 15-homer threat with more pop possible if he adds some loft to his stroke. 

MLB Pipeline

They also have a nice video scouting report

Baseball America ranks Taylor 31st in the class, and notably moved him up from 68th earlier in the spring which says that they view Taylor as an improving prospect which is always encouraging. They rave about his speed claiming it may be “double plus” and that he has natural instincts as a center fielder and at the plate. For someone who has not focused on baseball full-time, it is great that he already has those instincts.

Keith Law of The Athletic is the highest on Taylor ranking him 15th in this year’s draft class, interestingly ranking him ahead of Braden Montgomery who is the other top prep-outfielder this year. Law mentions that Taylor is “flying up draft boards because of his athleticism, plus speed, and feel to hit.” Law and BA also note that Taylor has put on muscle this year which could improve his power in the future.

In their recent mock drafts, Mike Axisa of CBS Sports and Kiley McDaniel of ESPN both have the Yankees taking Taylor in the first round. Axisa notes the Yankees tend to draft position players early and that Taylor fits the mold of “bat over power.”

Does he make sense?

Betting on upside with a late first-round pick is never a bad idea, and Taylor has upside in spades. What makes him different is that according to scouts, Taylor has a baseline floor to fall back on.

The natural comparison to Taylor for the Yankees is Blake Rutherford because they are both high school outfielders who were considered old for their draft class and had a better hit tool than raw power. Like Axisa pointed out, the Yankees prioritize bat-to-ball skills over raw power in their first round picks because they believe high schoolers will grow into their power as they develop.

We have seen this trend in two of the Yankees recent draft picks – Anthony Volpe and Anthony Siegler. Both were taken in the first round out of high school with better hit tools than power tools. That bet is certainly paying off for Volpe who two years after being drafted is slugging .545 in Low-A Tampa this year. Siegler, on the other hand, has only slugged .337 in his MiLB career to date, with only one home run since being drafted whereas Volpe has 6 already this year. Siegler has been plagued by injuries, however.

Taylor’s speed also provides a safety net because you know that he can remain in CF long-term. Even if the power does not develop, with his speed and bat skills he can carve out a productive career as a center fielder. One notable encouraging aspect of the BA write-up is that Taylor has “great natural feel for the barrel” and can already recognize breaking balls. The hope is that once Taylor commits to baseball full-time he can grow even more and further develop his approach at the plate.

With the way Taylor is rising up draft boards, it is possible some other team could view him like Keith Law does as the top prep outfielder and he may not make it to the Yankees selection. If he does though, he would be a great pick because he combines upside with instincts and a decent floor.

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Thoughts After a Rough Weekend in Philadelphia

Woof, that was a rough weekend. I did not enjoy watching either of those baseball games – and, on top of that, Luis Severino got hurt. This Yankees season is starting to feel cursed. It really is. In any case, here are some thoughts about the state of the Yankees right now.

1. It’s Getting Late Early Around Here: The Yankees are 33-32 (.507) after 65 games, which is their worst start to a season since 2008 – and we all know how that season ended. Seasons can change fast, especially for a team as talented as the Yankees, but if that’s going to happen, it needs to happen fast. Some numbers:

  • The Yanks are on an 82-win pace right now over a full season, with 97 games to go before season’s end. They have a negative run differential (-7), despite very good pitching.
  • They are 8.5 games behind first place Tampa Bay (8 on the loss side).
  • The Yanks cannot beat good teams: they’re 16-21 against opponents with a record above .500.
  • Home field advantage has all but disappeared, as they are 17-16 in the Boogie Down.
  • In order to get to 90 wins, they need to go 57-40 (.588), or a 95-win pace, the remainder of the way.
  • 95 wins, which feels like the entry way into the postseason, will require a 62-35 (.639), 104-win pace the rest of the way.
  • And, finally, to reach 100 wins, a threshold I thought they’d easily reach on Opening Day, they need to go 67-30 (.690), which is a 111-win pace over a full season.

All of this is to say that things are looking increasingly bleak in Yankee-land these days. Again, this is not impossible – far from it – but the sand is quickly moving to the bottom of the hourglass. It’s mid-June already, so there needs to be a sense of urgency in the Yankee clubhouse. There probably is, but this speaks for itself:

Okay, so this has all been pretty negative. There’s a lot of negativity out there in the Yankee fandom right now, so let’s end this bullet on a positive note. We’ve seen talented Yankee teams stumble out of the gate and then finish a season with ferocity. Here are two prominent examples that should hopefully give us some hope:

  • 2005: 39-39 after a 10-2 loss to Detroit on July 1st. Finished 95-67, won the AL East. They went 56-29 (.658) the rest of the way.
  • 2007: 23-30 after a 11-6 loss agains the Red Sox in Boston. Finished 94-68 to win the Wild Card.

Does that make this likely? Not at all. Are these Yankee teams the same as those Yankee teams? Also no. But those were also teams fans said were overpaid, over-reliant on the HR, and poorly constructed – but they were talented and turned it around. It isn’t out of the realm of possibility that the 2021 Yankees, who have largely the same team as the infectiously fun 2019 team, can do the same. In fact, I still expect them to do so. But if they don’t do it soon, it will likely be too late.

DoTF: Farm Goes Undefeated as Medina, Waldichuk, Wesneski Get Call to Double-A

  • Big promotion news: the Yankees have promoted Luis Medina, Ken Waldichuk, and Hayden Wesneski from High-A Hudson Valley to Double-A Somerset. That’s according to BA’s Josh Norris, who’d know.
  • That will mean there are accompanying moves upward throughout the organization that we’ll presumably find out about soon. No idea who or what those might be, though, so no point in me guessing….except that I would guess that Janson Junk would get the call to Scranton.
  • All told, Somerset is now the most interesting team in the farm – a mantle previously owned by Hudson Valley. They have some of the team’s most interesting farmhands, including Medina and Waldichuck but also Oswald Peraza and Luis Gil. Go check ’em out if you can.

Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders

The RailRiders improved to 23-11 on the back of a 6-run outburst in the 4th inning. They beat the Bisons 8-0 as Luke Voit kicked off his rehab. Good stuff.

  • Starting Pitcher: RHP Nick Nelson: 3.2 IP, 2 H, 1 BB, 3 K – 61% of his pitches were strikes…Nelson has a 1.96 ERA in Triple-A, with 26 strikeouts against just 6 walks in 18.1 IP…I think he should bring this energy to the Bronx once he gets the call again
  • In Relief: RHP Adam Warren: 2.1 IP, 2 H, 1 BB, 2 K – 63% of his pitches were strikes
  • In Relief: RHP Brooks Kriske: 1.0 IP, zeros, 2 K– 64% of his pitches were strikesglad to see him do well after an abysmal Bronx showing
  • In Relief: RHP Sal Romano: 1.0 IP, 1 H, zeros– 75% of his pitches were strikes
  • In Relief: RHP Luis García: 1.0 IP, 2 H, zeros, 1 K – 73% of his pitches were strikes
  • Rehab Watch: 1B Luke Voit: 1-3, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI – where have you gone, Luke Voit, a Bronx offense turns its lonely eyes to you
  • Hitting Star: RF Ryan LaMarre: 4-5, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 3 RBI – remember him?
  • Florial Watch: CF Estevan Florial: 3-4, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 K – even in a good game, he had to have his signature strikeout
  • MLB Watch: 3B Derek Dietrich: 1-3, 1 HR, 3 RBI– at what point is he an option over Odor…granted, he is hitting just .160
  • Leftovers: Hoy Jun Park, Trey Amburgey, and Andrew Velazquez had the other hits…7 of 9 Scranton hitters reached base in one stretch in the 4th that included three extra base hits

Game 65: Make It Stop, Please

For a baseball team that was an absolute joy to watch in the 2019 season, it is remarkable to consider what an unfun, slog of a team the Yankees have become over the last two years. It’s insane. It’s largely the same collection of players – but with the addition of bonafide ace Gerrit Cole. I have a hard time even understanding it, but here we are. Check this out:

Today’s absolutely embarrassing display against the Phillies, in which the Yankees fell 7-0, brings their record to 33-32 after 65 games. They’re 66-59 (.528), or an 86-pace over a full season, since opening Day in 2020. It feels a lot worse than that, too, considering the expectations. Projections are not everything, but the Yankees are as likely to miss the playoffs as they are to make them now.

Well, with that gross thought in mind, let’s get to today’s takeaways.

DoTF: A Day of Late Inning Heroics, But Sevy Leaves Hurt

  • Luis Severino was back! Note the past tense. He made an appearance with the Hudson Valley Renegades before departing the game with a groin injury. We should hear more today after he has his MRI. In the meantime, here is the slow-motion video of the play that got him. Not great!
  • The Yankees welcomed Zack Britton back to the big league team yesterday, which meant that Mike Ford was DFA’d to make room on the 40-man roster. So long, Mike. We’ll always have Truck Month. (Brooks Kriske was optioned back to Triple-A Scranton to make room on the MLB roster for the lefty reliever.)

Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders

The RailRiders improved to 22-11 on the season after yesterday’s 6-4 victory over the Buffalo Bisons. It took extras to get it done, but a win’s a win. All 4 runs came via starter Nick Green. The RailRiders held Buffalo scoreless after the 2nd.

  • Starting Pitcher: RHP Nick Green: 3.0 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 4 K – 55% of his pitches were strikes…another rough outing for the 26-year-old, who has allowed 17 ER in just 23.2 innings of work in 2021
  • In Relief: RHP Reggie McClain: 2.0 IP, 1 H, zeros, 1 K – 81% of his pitches were strikes…the 28-year-old has been very solid for Scranton
  • In Relief: RHP Braden Bristo: 3.0 IP, 2 H, zeros, 2 K – 74% of his pitches were strikes…he’s allowed just 3 hits in 17 innings in 2021 without a run
  • In Relief: RHP Nick Goody: 2.0 IP, zeros, 1 BB, 3 K – 75% of his pitches were strikes…earned his 3rd win
  • Florial Watch: CF Estevan Florial: 1-4, 2 K, 1 SB, 1 CSFlorial has a 33% K rate in 113 at-bats in the minors…it’s 36% in Triple-A, though
  • Red Hot Alert: LF Trey Amburgey: 2-5, 2 RBI – the 26-year-old outfielder is up to .397/.433/.778 on the season and may earn himself a call-up at some point
  • Philosopher King: DH Socrates Brito: 1-4, 2 RBI – second RBI came in the 10th to make it 6-4…it followed a wild pitch that gave Scranton the initial lead
  • Hitting Star: C Kellin Deglan: 2-4, 1 R, 1 RBI
  • Leftovers: Andrew Velazquez had 2 hits…Armando Alvarez and Hoy Jun Park added the other Scranton hits

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