Samad Taylor is on a tear. With that bomb last night, Taylor has 8 HRs on the season, one off of his career high – and we’re just into the second month of the season.
How has he done it? How has the toolsy kid who flew onto the prospect radar during Area Codes tryouts in 2015 turned the quick-twitch athleticism the Blue Jays covet into long ball power like this?
It’s likely a combination of factors. Time in the weight room has allowed the 5’10”/160 wiry Taylor to translate that quick-twitch trait into bat speed. He’s getting his barrel out frequently, and is hammering pitches on the inner half. Simply put, he’s getting his barrel through the strike zone on time. Speaking of time – Taylor spent some in the Australian Baseball League in the off season, and that very likely helped accelerate his development, especially compared to his peers.
When you look at Taylor’s numbers and his performance over the past few weeks, it’s truly eye popping:
What’s impressive about Taylor’s outburst in this still young season is his ability to use the whole field. Despite the number of pitches he’s barrelled up, he’s not pull happy – his 35% Cent rate demonstrates he’s letting pitches travel, and using his quick hands and (now more explosive) compact stroke to pound pitches to his liking.
If there is any concern about Taylor’s ability to repeat these numbers at a higher level, it has to be his strikeout/walk totals. Yes, he’s mashing, but he’s also clearly selling out for power with a 33% K rate and a 6% BB clip, although both of those are trending in a more positive direction of late. Taylor has also seen 526 pitches so far, second in the organization to on-base machine Spencer Horwitz. He’s working counts, and getting deep into them. When he’s ahead in the count, as you might expect, Taylor is a sultan of swat with a 1.332 OPS, but that falls to .658 when he’s behind. When he gets deep into a count, the result more often than not has been a strikeout as opposed to a walk, and you wonder if pitches at higher levels will exploit this tendency.
Defensively, Taylor has become something of a multi-position guy, likely partly because of New Hampshire’s crowded infield, and in an attempt to boost his value. Formerly primarily a 2nd baseman, Taylor has seen time in 3B, LF and CF, as well as 2B.
Taylor had fallen off the prospect radar after back-to-back mediocre seasons (.706 and .689 OPS, respectively) at Lansing and Dunedin. But he’s firmly put himself back on it over the past month.