Ranking in a Nutshell: He's a power lefty. Cedar Rapids' manager Bill Mosiello raved about his fastball/slider arsenal to Baseball America, prompting BA's Jim Callis to label Taylor a sleeper in '10. He's left-handed. Taylor's 2009 stat line was stellar, capped by a ridiculous 14.6 K's per nine innings in the Midwest League. He's left-handed. You get the picture.
Track Record: Not as strong as you'd think once you look past 2009. He pitched well enough in Orem after the Halos took him in the 34th round of the 2008 draft, fanning 39 in 35 innings of work, but yielded a 4.37 ERA. His college years were uninspiring: in three seasons, Taylor posted a 4.88 ERA over 75.2 innings, with a terrible 61 K/50 BB ratio, suggesting that the Halos' pitching coaches have earned their pay. That success also bodes well for the organization's recent draft strategy of targeting low-performing college pitchers with good arms but questionable track records.
Win-the-Lottery-Ceiling: A lefty, back-of-the-bullpen arm with a plus fastball and a plus slider? Dare I say Billy Wagner? Taylor likely won't ever throw that hard, so a safer comp is Detroit Tigers reliever Phil Coke, recently of the Yankees, who works in the 92-93 mph range with a solid slider. Lefties with his kind of stuff are rare, so Taylor could be a huge asset in the Halos' bullpen down the road, but he still has to prove that 2009 was no flash in the pan.
Scouting Report: (beneath the jump)
I missed seeing Taylor last year and there hasn't yet been a decent 2009 scouting report or video posted online, despite his success, so I'm going to have to stick to the numbers. Obviously there's the 14.6 K's per nine, which helped him limit the opposition to a meager .183 BAA. Lefties showed nothing against him, batting just .131. Righties were a bit better, hitting .208, but still fanned at the rate of 13 K's per nine, so I see no sign of Taylor getting buttonholed with the ‘lefty specialist' tag anytime soon.
Taylor doesn't induce many groundballs, but did a good job last year of turning a lot of the resulting flyballs into pop-ups. Nevertheless, excessive homeruns are something we'll have to watch out for in the California League next year, because at this point the flyballs seem the most vulnerable chink in Taylor's armor.