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MLB Rookie Report: Taylor Motter, OF, Tampa Bay Rays

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Taylor Motter made his major league debut yesterday, going 1-for-4 with a walk and two runs scored against the Toronto Blue Jays. Motter was an obscure prospect until 2015 when he broke out with a .292/.366/.471 campaign in Triple-A, contributing 14 homers, 26 steals, and a 57/95 BB/K mark in 486 at-bats. He was off to a slower start in 2016 (.190/.228/.303) but continuing to show power and speed with four homers and eight steals before his promotion.

Who is this guy?

From the 2016 Baseball Prospect Book

Taylor Motter, OF-INF, Tampa Bay Rays
Bats: R Throws: R HT: 6-1 WT: 195 DOB: September 18, 1989

SLEEPER ALERT!! Motter was a 17th round pick in 2011 out of Coastal Carolina University. He has quietly outperformed numerous more-heralded prospects and was added to the 40-man roster over the winter. Despite his relative lack of press attention Motter has numerous assets, including 55-60 grade speed, a strong throwing arm, surprising power, and good sense for the strike zone. Second base is probably his best position but he is at least competent at shortstop, and third base, and left field, and right field, and even center field. This is a heck of a package for a super-utility player. The main negative is age: he’s already 26, but there’s nothing left to prove in the minors. He would be an ideal bench asset given his versatility. Grade C+.

ADDITIONAL COMMENTARY

At Durham this year Motter spent time at third base, second base, shortstop and right field. In his major league debut he played five innings at shortstop and four more in right. That's what you call versatility and the Rays intend to make use of it.

Motter's hitting approach was more aggressive than usual for him this spring: he drew just seven walks against 28 strikeouts in 142 at-bats at Durham, a much weaker BB/K/PA profile than he showed in past seasons. It is probably not a coincidence that his batting average and OBP have been lower than normal in the early going. Perhaps he was swinging for the fences more often. In any event, plate discipline and strike zone control have been strengths for him in the past, including last year for Durham, so I would not be overly concerned about the first six weeks of this year given that his power and speed are intact.

With his combination of versatility, speed and power, Motter should be a highly valuable role player.

Here's a home run bomb to left field.