Amid the flurry of roster moves yesterday, the most interesting and meaningful of those in terms of long-term affects to the franchise may have been the promotion of 23-year-old shortstop Chris Taylor. The right-handed hitting Taylor -- Seattle's 5th round pick out of Virginia in the 2012 Draft -- was second in the PCL in batting at .328 at the time of his being added to the 40-man and selected from Triple-A Tacoma. That production from his bat has been somewhat of a surprise to the Mariners, and it is that bat that could make him a fixture on Seattle's 25-man roster.
On the surface, Taylor was added to Seattle's roster to fill the utility infielder role because veteran Willie Bloomquist hit the disabled list. But looking a little closer, you can make an argument that the real reason that the young prospect was added was because of the struggles of one-time hot prospects Brad Miller and -- to a larger degree -- Nick Franklin, neither of whom have been able to round into form at the big league level.
Miller -- a 2nd round pick -- and Franklin -- a supplemental 1st round pick -- both were much higher profile as prospects coming up through the ranks for Seattle, but Taylor's success in the minor leagues actually has a very close resemblance to a player who is currently one of the Mariners' best players; Kyle Seager.
Seager -- who himself was a 3rd round pick in 2009 -- rocketed through Seattle's system, hitting every step of the way before reaching the big leagues after just 269 games in the minors, only 90 of those above A-ball. An All-Star for the first time this season, Seager has hit for much more power in the majors than he did in the minors, transforming from a 1.8% HR rate as a minor leaguer to a 3.1% HR rate with Seattle. Worth noting, he's posted an 8.8% extra base hit rate both in the big leagues and the minors.
Taylor made it to Seattle after 258 games in along his minor league stops for the M's, hitting home runs at a 1.3% rate but carrying an 8.1% extra base hit rate. Because of his approach and his swing, Taylor isn't likely to experience anything close to the home run spike that Seager has seen, but that 8.1% XBH rate would be among the leaders for middle infielders in MLB this season. The comparisons between the two in terms of their minor league experience and performance is actually very similar.
This isn't to say that Taylor will become Seager's equal, but remember that the player who is probably Seattle's second best offensive performer wasn't even considered more than the second best player that the M's selected from his college. And just as Dustin Ackley was the prize that the M's were after at North Carolina when they discovered Seager, Taylor was drafted out of Virginia a year after the club selected now injured left-hander Danny Hultzen and catcher John Hicks from the school. Just as Ackley led them to Seager, Hultzen led them to Taylor.
As the trade deadline closes in on Seattle, it's possible that Taylor could draw a lot of interest. It's also possible that Miller, the current regular starting shortstop, could be a piece that allows Seattle to get a deal done. Whatever the case, Chris Taylor looks to have a solid foundation including a statline and timeline similar to that of a certain All-Star third baseman that could be a preview of what lies ahead of his MLB career.
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