54. Samad Taylor – Shortstop
Born: 07/11/1998 – Height: 5’10” – Weight: 160 – Bats: Switch – Throws: Right
Facts & Info: The Indians selected Taylor in the 10th round of the 2016 Draft out of Corona Senior High School (CA) and signed him for $125,000. Had he not signed with the Indians he had a commitment to attend and play baseball at the University of Arizona.
Offense: Taylor is an undersized, athletic infielder who brings a lot of versatility to the plate as he can hit from both sides and has some interesting hitting skills. He has a simple setup at the plate with a narrow base and upright stance. He shows the makings of an advanced approach and some good hand-eye coordination which should allow for a good amount of walks and limit strikeouts. While he is a switch hitter, he is more consistent from the right side as he has a swing that provides a quicker path to the ball. His power is below average, but it plays up for a player his size because of his quick hands, fast twitch actions and the good bat speed he generates. The Indians believe there is some physical projection to him which brings some upside to the bat because as he continues to get stronger and fills out his frame then the good, hard contact he already makes should allow him to drive balls over the infield and into the gaps.
Defense: Taylor’s plus athleticism, good speed and fast twitch actions allow him the ability to play just about anywhere on the diamond. The Indians believe he can stick at shortstop because he shows good range, some smooth actions and is very fundamentally sound, though the arm is only solid average. While the Indians plan to develop him as a shortstop, he will probably mix in at other positons to get consistent at bats and also experiment with him to see where his best fit on the field may be and what positions he can handle on a regular basis. He brings a lot of versatility as he can handle third base and second base, and has some experience in the outfield as an amateur.
Speed & Intangibles: Taylor runs the bases well and shows a plus run tool with the ability to impact some on the bases. He is a focused player who shows a willingness to make adjustments and take instruction from coaches. He is aggressive and makes a lot of things happen on the field. The Indians like the makeup and work ethic, and feel he has some leadership qualities that could really blossom once he gets more comfortable and settled into the pro game.
Focus: One of the main focus points in Taylor’s development plan at this stage is to get him stronger. The Indians have worked with him in his strength and conditioning program to try and add some more overall strength and power to his swing which should allow the bat to play a little bit more consistently. His swing from the left side is inconsistent and needs more work to repeat it so that he can more regularly be in a proper position to make good, hard contact. The Indians have also made some tweaks to his swing from the right side to make him more athletic and not so tall in his stance. His arm strength is not bad but it is enough of a question mark that it could eventually push him to second base.
Future: As a 17-year old draft pick, Taylor is young and brings a lot of promise. He wasn’t someone who had a lot of attention going into the draft, but he opened some eyes at the Area Code games in August 2015 and carried that strong showing all the way through the spring and into the draft. Part of the reason he was somewhat of an unknown is he was home schooled his junior year, which meant he was not part of a high school baseball program and had to practice on his own time and play games in a non-affiliated Sunday league for high schoolers sitting out the season. That strong showing in the Area Code games combined with a return to his high school for his senior season helped build some momentum for the Indians to take him as a bonus pool round pick. The Indians were impressed by what they saw of him over the summer before his draft year and really liked his defense a lot. They felt that the bat would be a little bit behind because he was one of the youngest guys in the draft class and there would be a little bit of a struggle and adjustment at the beginning, but to their surprise he got off to a better start than they anticipated. He's an interesting upside pick that the Indians feel gives them some depth up the middle in the lower levels and has the potential to be so much more if things click for him. His profile is as a utility player, but if the bat plays he could stick at either shortstop or second base – though second base still looks like the most likely path because of the lack of a big arm for the left side of the infield. He should open the season in extended spring training and then either return to the rookie level Arizona League or go to Short-A Mahoning Valley when their seasons kick up in mid-June.
Ranking History: None