For almost the entirety of the Jack Zduriencik era in Seattle, the Mariners have boasted a highly-regarded farm system. Things aren’t as rosy as they were a couple years ago, what with the team having graduated a lineup’s worth of prospects, but the Mariners are hanging around as something like a top ten system. The system just got a little thinner, however, with the promotion of shortstop Chris Taylor.
Chris Taylor. Have you heard of him? Last year he was Seattle’s Minor League Player of the Year, tearing through high A and AA with wRC+ marks of 151 and 131, respectively. He doesn’t have a ton of pop, but he hits for a high average and draws plenty of walks. He’s good on the basepaths and makes contact often enough to survive in the majors. There’s a lot to like about Chris Taylor the hitter.
Taylor’s defense, of course, is likely to be his biggest asset. He plays a rangey short and has a strong throwing arm, and is thought of as Brad Miller‘s equal. Unless, of course, he’s better than Miller, which is certainly a possibility. His instincts draw praise, and that’s music to the ears of people who’ve grown sick of watching Miller’s errors and mental mistakes. Despite the errors, Miller’s been a good-to-great defensive shortstop. Take away his one flaw and you’ve got Chris Taylor.
Only 23 years old, Taylor was taken in the fifth round of the 2012 draft. He played at UVA with Danny Hultzen but wasn’t considered much of a commodity at the time the Mariners picked him. All he’s done since then is hit, while playing the kind of exhilarating defense that assures scouts a kid will stick at the position. Coming into the season he was ranked as the eighth-best Mariners prospect by MLB.com. Since then his stock has clearly risen.
Here’s something fun about Taylor that may or may not excite you beyond reason. Carson Cistulli at FanGraphs has a semi-regular post he does where he looks at prospects who are still in the minor leagues and ranks them based on their projected WAR were they to be promoted to the majors. The latest installment was published three days ago, and guess who’s tied for the top spot? Chris Taylor, that’s who! Steamer projects Taylor as a 2.1 win player. Interesting note – the guy he’s tied with at 2.1 WAR? Tacoma infielder Ty Kelly, who is thought of as a top prospect by approximately nobody. Interesting.
It must be noted that Chris Taylor is not Brad Miller. He is also not Nick Franklin, and now all three of those guys have seen time with Seattle this season. Miller was already losing playing time to Willie Bloomquist, so it’s not like Taylor is coming up to ride the pine. He started at short and batted ninth last night, and there’s no reason to expect him to be primarily a bench guy. He seems likely to share time with Miller, if he doesn’t end up supplanting him entirely. It’s hard to say right now. These things do seem to have a way of shaking themselves out.
Welcome to the major leagues, Chris Taylor. You seem like a nice enough guy. Hit a little and everyone will like you. Hit a lot and they’ll build a statue of you.