Name: Taylor Teagarden
DOB: December 21, 1983
When former University of Texas catcher Taylor Teagarden fell to the 19th pick of the 2005 draft's third round, the Rangers were thrilled. Prior to the draft, the Dallas native was projected by many to be a first round pick. The draft day fall was largely due to his affiliation with agent Scott Boras.
Known for his exceptional defensive skills, Teagarden had smooth mechanics behind the plate, a strong and accurate arm, and had the rare experience of calling his own game in college.
However, Teagarden also performed well at the plate. In his junior year at Texas, he helped the Longhorns to a national title while hitting .333 with 22 doubles, seven home runs, and 33 runs batted in. He walked 40 times and struck out 41.
The Rangers were able to sign Teagarden for a bonus of $725,000 shortly after the draft. The native Texan reported to Short-Season Spokane, where he hit .281 with five doubles, four triples, and seven home runs in just 96 at bats. Teagarden's performance was good enough for a slugging percentage of .635.
The catcher's 2006 season was cut short well before it began, when he was forced to have Tommy John surgery in the middle of the offseason. Teagarden spent much of the season rehabbing his elbow at the Rangers' Spring Training complex in Surprise, Arizona. He was activated with the Rookie League Arizona Rangers late in the season, where he played in seven games as a designated hitter.
Batting and Power: Though Teagarden is best known for his work behind the plate, he is far from being a liability with the bat. Teagarden's primary issue at the plate is his ability to make consistent contact. The 23-year-old struck out 32 times in 96 at bats with Spokane in 2005. The backstop figures to draw his fair share of walks while hitting for a decent average to go along with slightly above average power. He could become one of the better offensive prospects in the organization if he cuts down on his strikeouts.
Base Running and Speed: Teagarden moves fairly well for a catcher, but that doesn't mean that he'll be swiping many bases. He has below-average speed.
Defense: The hallmark of his game, Teagarden is mature beyond his years defensively. Teagarden is currently ready for the upper Minor League levels – if not the Major Leagues – behind the plate. Aside from his abilities as a game caller, Teagarden has a quick release along with a strong, accurate arm.
Projection: Teagarden's defensive prowess practically assures him of an eventual spot on a Major League roster. If he is able to develop his offensive game, Teagarden could become a starting catcher in the Majors for years to come. If he is unable to get it done with the bat, he would likely have a career as a backup.
2007 Outlook: Even though the backstop missed practically the entire 2006 season, he was able to get work in at fall instructionals in Surprise. Teagarden should spend the 2007 season as the starting catcher at High-A Bakersfield.
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