Scott Taylor Eyes Improvement

DAYTONA BEACH — Cubs pitching prospect Scott Taylor has thus far been successful enough in his professional career to advance to the Class High-A ranks at Daytona. But the right-hander has hit a few snags this season.

At age 19 last season, Taylor pitched himself to an 8-8 record with a 3.39 ERA for Class-A Peoria. But he has fallen on rough times this season with a 3-7 mark and a 5.97 ERA since breaking spring camp with Daytona.

In spite of the struggles, Daytona manager Jody Davis knows what Taylor -- ranked the 31st best prospect in the Cubs organization by entering 2007 -- is capable of.

"Scott's a bulldog and he's going to come right at you," Davis said. "That's the way he pitches. He's not going to walk many guys. This year, he has been a little more up in the zone than we want, but he's still going to come right after you."

Taylor talked about the development of his off-speed pitches as being key to his success.

"This year, I'm just trying to get my arm strength up, keep the ball down, and work on my secondary pitches," Taylor said.

"Coming out of high school, I had a pretty good fastball and never really had to throw a lot of changeups and sliders. Working on my secondary pitches and my mechanics are the biggest things for me this season."

Taylor had somewhat gotten things together by putting together a 3-2 record with a 4.00 ERA in six starts during the month of May.

He allowed two runs or less in three consecutive starts, going at least six innings in each outing before hitting another bump in the road when Daytona fell to the Dunedin Blue Jays in a recent 20-5 loss on June 3.

Taylor only lasted 1 1/3 innings and gave up five runs on seven hits.

Five days later while facing the Clearwater Threshers, he lasted 5 2/3 innings but yielded six runs on 10 hits, marking the third time this season in which Taylor has surrendered 10 hits or more in a start.

"The last couple of starts, I've been feeling really good (health-wise)," Taylor said. "I had some tendonitis in Spring Training and I did some things to take care of that. I think I've finally gotten that flushed out and now I'm really just trying to build the arm strength back up and be aggressive."

Pitching coach Rich Bombard recently pinpointed some of Taylor's struggles.

"What has happened to Scott this season is that he has gotten ahead and been aggressive, but then left a lot of pitches out over the plate," Bombard said. "You'd much rather have a guy like that instead of a guy who is behind all of the time and then has to come in the zone to get back in an at-bat.

"All we need Scott to do is make better pitches when he does get ahead in the count and to make the hitter expand his strike zone to come after your pitches," Bombard added.

Taylor features a fastball-slider combination in his repertoire, and is now trying to fine-tune his improving changeup.

"With a 100-pitch limit, which is what we have, I'm just trying to go out there and get as deep into the game as I can, help out the bullpen, and give the team a chance to win," said Taylor. "That's really all I'm thinking about out there. It's nine on one and I'm just trying to go out there and throw strikes."

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