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.
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.
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:
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.