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A Few More Book Excerpts

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One final batch of book excerpts, then we'll take a look at the recent history of catching prospects. Remember, in the book all of these players will have statistics from the last two seasons with the comment.

Jason Taylor, 1B-3B, Kansas City Royals

Bats: R     Throws: R     HT: 6-0   WT: 210   DOB: January 14, 1988

 

A third round pick out of high school in Virginia Beach, Virginia in 2006, Taylor was suspended for disciplinary reasons and missed all of 2007. He returned to the field in ’08 and had an interesting season for Burlington in the Midwest League. He started the year at third base, with Mike Moustakas at shortstop, but when the Royals moved Moustakas to third base in June, Taylor moved to first base. He has a good throwing arm, but his hands and range at third base were shaky, so the move across the diamond makes sense. Offensively, he has an intriguing package of strengths and weaknesses. He has good power against fastballs, but struggles against breaking pitches. Nevertheless, he demonstrates a sharp batting eye and draws plenty of walks, keeping his OBP at a high level despite an unimpressive batting average. He has good speed for a big guy and is an aggressive baserunner. His Secondary Average was a robust .433, demonstrating strong productivity despite the low regular average. We will have to see how Taylor’s talents carry forward against better pitching, but I do think he is a sleeper to track. Grade C with higher potential.

 

Michael Taylor, OF, Philadelphia Phillies

Bats: R    Throws: R     HT: 6-6     WT: 250   DOB: December 19, 1985

 

A fifth round pick out of Stanford in ’07, Taylor has always had strong physical tools, but his college performance was often disappointing, which hurt his draft stock. He struggled in his first look at pro pitching after being drafted, but he turned things around and dominated the South Atlantic and Florida State Leagues in 2008, destroying both leagues with a +41 OPS and a +33 OPS respectively. Adjustments to his swing and improved plate discipline were big factors. Taylor runs well and has a strong throwing arm, but is still polishing up his fielding and baserunning. I’m quite impressed with what he did last year, but we need to see if he can sustain it at higher levels. He has long arms and Double-A pitchers are going to try and tie him up inside. Grade B for now. If he can replicate this in Double-A/Triple-A raise that a notch.

 

Junichi Tazawa, RHP, Boston Red Sox
Bats: R     Throws:R      HT: 5-11   WT: 180    DOB: June 6, 1986

 

The Red Sox signed Tazawa out of Japan in early December 2008, giving him a major league contract worth an estimated $3,000,000. He has a 90-93 MPH fastball, and both his slider and forkball are considered major league quality pitches. His command is also supposed to be an asset. Unlike most Japanese players who come to the US, Tazawa has yet to pitch professionally, and is likely to begin 2009 in the minor leagues. Scouts say he should be ready for the majors sometime in 2010, but of course we need to see exactly how all of this pans out. He would be the equivalent of a first round pick talent-wise according to most experts. If Tazawa looks good in spring training, he’ll likely begin his professional career in Double-A. Any grade is speculative at this point, but we will go with a nice default

Grade B until we see some actual data.

 

Taylor Teagarden, C, Texas Rangers

Bats: R    Throws: R     HT: 6-1     WT: 200   DOB: December 21, 1983

 

 

The trade of Gerald Laird opens up a spot for Taylor Teagarden in 2009, assuming he can stay healthy enough to take advantage of it. Durability has been an issue…he is fully recovered from Tommy John surgery now, but missed time with a wrist injury last year, which hampered his hitting at Frisco and Oklahoma. It was better by September and he thrived for Texas, but do NOT expect him to hit .300+ in a full season. He’s more of a .240-.250 hitter I think, though with above average power and a reasonable walk rate. He’s an excellent defensive catcher with a strong throwing arm, good mobility, and highly-respected field generalship skills. I have liked Teagarden since college at the University of Texas, but I think he is going to be rather erratic with the bat...capable of dominating for stretches, but also going through long slumps. His glove will keep him in the lineup even when he’s not hitting well, and he should have a long career provided more injuries don’t intervene. Grade B.