Taylor a bright light in Mariners system
Without a doubt, the Mariners' signing of Robinson Cano has had a tremendous impact on the club's middle-infield prospects.
Such players as Nick Franklin, Carlos Triunfel, Brad Miller and Chris Taylor will all feel the impact that All-Star Cano will have on the team.
Even though middle infield was probably the deepest position in the Mariners organization, Cano will occupy second base in Seattle for years to come.
That's great for the franchise, as Cano provides the offensive stability and potential run production they were seeking for years, but what happens to the unproven younger players mentioned above?
One of the bright lights of the system is Taylor, a shortstop/second baseman who has the ability to field well and provide "small ball"-type offense.
Taylor was playing for the University of Virginia in 2011, when the Mariners scouted his teammate, left-hander Dan Hultzen. Thanks to being in the right place at the right time, Taylor made an impression on the Mariners, and he was selected in the fifth round of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft.
Now Taylor, 23, is No. 5 on the list of the Mariners' top prospects.
Though his options for playing time with the Mariners have been reduced, Taylor has the ability to force his way into being recognized as a viable starting or utility infielder somewhere in Major League Baseball. It very well may be with Seattle.
Last season, recent Minor League graduate Miller took over for the veteran shortstop Brendan Ryan. Ryan is now with the Yankees, the team he joined at the completion of the 2013 season.
With Miller at shortstop and Cano at second, it appears that the immediate future for the soft- and sure-handed Taylor is as a utility man off the bench. If that is ultimately his role, he'll perform it well -- or he can really hit and try to win the job at shortstop.
I saw Taylor play a great number of his 18 games for the Peoria Javelinas in the 2013 Arizona Fall League. I saw him play second base, and he looked comfortable and capable.
Taylor hit a very fine .294 with a home run and five RBIs. He stole five bases, and was caught twice.
Taylor has completed two seasons of Minor League ball in the Mariners system. He has a composite .318 batting average based upon seasons of .322 and .314.
Here's what has made Taylor stand out during his brief career: He has played for four teams, in four classifications. He has hit below .300 once during his campaigns with Everett (.328, Class A short season), Clinton (.304, Class A), High Desert (.335, Class A Advanced) and Jackson (.293, Double-A).
Taylor is a contact hitter with the ability to spray the ball to all fields with a short, compact swing. He does not try to power the ball out of the park. He is best described as a hitter who will take advantage of a pitcher's mistakes.
Although he doesn't hit home runs, he has enough pop in his bat and a swing that is generated with the barrel of the bat, to hit the gaps. He has hit 40 doubles in his 837 plate appearances so far.
This past season, Taylor won the Mariners Minor League Player of the Year Award. In addition, speed is one of his most refined tools, if not the most. Between High Desert and Jackson, he stole 38 bases, using his speed to position himself to score 108 runs for the two teams combined.
A right-handed batter, the 6-foot, 170-pound Taylor hit .321 against right-handed pitching and a very fine .294 against lefties. His only real slump came in July.
Taylor has quick feet and good instincts. His range to both sides and coming in on balls is good. He gets rid of the ball quickly and has a strong and accurate arm. He has enough ability to play shortstop. He just isn't flashy.
Given the crowded infield depth, I believe Taylor will account for himself well with the Mariners.
Bernie Pleskoff has served as a professional scout for the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners. Follow @BerniePleskoff; on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.