IF Samad Taylor was acquired by the Blue Jays in the Joe Smith deadline deal, along with LHP Thomas Pannone. Taylor was a 10th round pick of Cleveland in 2016. In the aftermath of the deal, the term that seemed to be applied to the athletic Californian is intriguing.
Viewed as undersized, he put on quite a performance in front of an armada of scouts at the 2015 Area Code Games tryouts that changed a number of teams' minds. A draft report from Baseball America suggests he was a Best Player Available pick:
He's athletic and has some quick hands that give him surprising power at his size. He's a plus runner who could wind up as a utility player and has a good chance to stay in the infield. He's undersized at 5-foot-9, 159 pounds and may not have the arm strength to stick at shortstop.As is the case with most high school picks, Taylor spent his first year in pro ball in a complex league, putting up a respectable .293/.359/.397 line for Cleveland's Arizona League entry. Sent to short season Mahoning Valley of the New York-Penn League, he's put up decent numbers again, showing a little more pop, but getting on base less often.
Taylor is one of those fast-twitch, athletic guys that teams covet. He was a switch-hitter in high school, but the Indians had him hitting only from the right side when he turned pro. Hitting from a tall stance with a very simple set of mechanics, Taylor uses his lower half and quick hands to produce a line-drive swing. He makes consistent hard contact, although his BB-K ratio this year suggests that his pitch recognition skills are being put to the test by the more advanced NY-Penn pitchers.
In the field, Taylor has quick reactions to the ball, including a swift first step. His actions are smooth, fundamentals are sound, moves well laterally, and he covers a lot of ground and gets to a lot of balls as a result. He does not have the strongest or most graceful arm action, however, which is why he's projected to be a 2B as he advances. He doesn't appear to have the arm for SS.
On the bases, Taylor's speed gets a 70 (out of 80) grade, and most reports make reference to this tool. That raw speed has not translated into stolen bases just yet, but if he continues to develop as a hitter with power to the gaps, it could result in higher double and triples totals.
Video of Taylor from his draft year.....
Taylor is listed at 5'10"/160, and both figures are probably on the generous side. He's no doubt added some weight to his medium frame, which should add some power. He turned 19 in July, so there is still some room for projection.
Taylor was not listed among Cleveland's Top 30 pre-season prospects, which is not a surprise given his inexperience and the depth of their system. He been a fixture at the top of Mahoning Valley's order this season, and he profiles as a top of the order hitter if he can continue to get on base. His likely destination in Vancouver, but he probably has to get a passport before that can happen. The Northwest League is on their all-star break, and the C's resume play at Hillsboro on Friday - which is good news, because if Taylor is somehow in the lineup, the Hops' home games are broadcast on milb.com.
Does the athletic Taylor have an MLB future? That is incredibly difficult to say at this point. Given his tools and skills, he could profile as an MLB utility player if he doesn't pan out as a full-time Second Baseman. His acquisition does add to the growing stable of athletes in the Blue Jays system.