Monday, July 1, 2013

Blake Taylor - Lefty In Progress

The Pirates picked Blake Taylor, 17 year old LHP from Dana Hills HS in California, with the #51 overall selection in the second round.  He signed for $750K, with the assigned slot being $1,065,400. Though projected as a second or third round pick, he was a value selection, and there were reasons for that.

The 6'3", 210 lb. Taylor went 2-3 with a 2.57 ERA and 59 strikeouts in 11 games (10 starts, 49 IP) this year as a senior. There were a lot of dominoes involved in those not so inspiring numbers: it was his first year of varsity pitching, as he transferred from El Toro HS to Dana Point, losing his junior season; he worked under a pitch limit; he didn't have a lot of run support behind him, and also because he occasionally struggled with pitch location.

With all that, Taylor was a 2013 Rawlings third-team All-American selection and California All Region First-Team selection. He had a commitment to join the Rainbows of Hawaii, which doesn't sound like a bad bit of leverage to us. ranked Taylor the #61 prospect in the draft. Their report said that "He's tall, projectable and left-handed...he sits in the low 90s, and has touched the mid-90s with a fastball that often has good tail and sink to it. His curve has the chance to be an above-average breaking pitch. He doesn't throw his changeup much, and he'll have to develop it."

Baseball America rated him #55. Keith Law of ESPN liked him, ranking him (behind a subscriber wall) #40 and saying "he’s got mid-rotation starter potential, but is a long-term play with a lot of variables before he gets there."

Bleacher Report wrote that he "has potential to be an above-average pitch at the next level; at the same time, needs to be used more; hasn't needed much besides his fastball at the high school level; his curve sits in the 77-83 mph range...developing (the) third pitch will be crucial to his development as a starter; if he fails to develop (a third) pitch, he's staring at a career as a reliever."

Their projection is that he'll be a back end starter for a first-division team, but more likely a successful late inning set-up guy with a long lead in time; they estimate his MLB debut will be in 2019.

He was a pretty sensible selection for the second round, especially with two high picks ahead of him. The way the draft is set up now, you have to find someone that can help save some pool money to spread around, and the Buc FO did it without reaching. They went with the profile they love - a big, young, upside kid, and a lefty to boot.

Taylor comes equipped with a fastball and workable curve, and the Pirate development protocol will get him working on command from the get-go. The caveat on him is how raw his talents are; 49 innings of high school ball isn't much, though it does give the coaches a tabula rosa to work with. A third pitch will come only after the first two are squared away, sometime during his A ball stint.

So don't look for Taylor to be fast tracked; he's got tools and potential, but a long road ahead of him. He should start out at the GCL level, and see where that leads.

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