Royals Corner had this to say in its 2006 top prospects list. "Ask any two random scouts about what they think of Jason Taylor, and you’ll likely get two completely different assessments".
Taylor has been in the back of my mind ever since he was selected in the 2nd round in 2006. Like Jeff Bianchi, Taylor is someone with a lot of promise who has faced various problems. Bianchi faced injuries and Taylor with god only knows. But after his outstanding year in Low A ball, Taylor has returned to top prospect status.
As we all know, Taylor missed 2007. That was bad. Really bad. That was definitely a worse case scenario for a guy you take in the second round. Especially considering that he wasn't in the BA Top 200 going into the draft. By the way, can someone PLEASE tell me why he missed 2007? I've seen various rumors (drugs, work ethic, insubordination) but nothing conclusive.
Nonetheless, Taylor finally got the opportunity to play full season baseball on the banks of the MIssissippi River in idyllic Burlington, Iowa.* He did not disappoint. Taylor brought his bat and keen eye in posting a 242/372/418 for a 790 OPS. League OPS was 693. Taylor also posted a BABIP of 272 so it seems plausible that with better luck he would have likely broken the 800 OPS threshold.
*Taylor made his professional debut in 2006 in the AZL. He did mostly good but not great. He showed good on base skills but no pop in posting a 258/374/325 for an underwhelming 699 OPS. The League OPS that year was 727 and the team's 744. Very little power with only 9 XBH's in 177 PA's. And then came the mystery trouble.
Taylor looks to have three plus tools. Instead of hitting for average, I'm going to call his tool batting eye. I doubt this is too controversial. Taylor has shown exceptional patience at the plate. Taylor also possesses the power tool. He had 38 XBH's this year, including 17 HR's in the power deflated Midwest League. Taylor also has some wheels. He snagged 40 bases in 54 attempts, for a 74% average.
So with that, I see three above average tools. I know little about his fielding abilities. I've read reports saying he was both good and bad with the glove. It is worth noting that he was moved to first to accomodate Moustakas's move to the hot corner. And for the final tool, throwing ability, I also have no idea. But 3/5 ain't bad, ain't bad at all.
Given Taylor's production, tools, and age, the future looks bright for the former bad boy*. If he can hone his contact skills he could bump up to elite prospect status. And with his wheels, could Taylor play CF? Adrian Ortiz played CF for much of the year in Burlington until he was promoted. Is it plausible for a HS SS, moved to 3B in the pros, moved to 1B to accommodate the organizations top prospect, could possibly be a CF in disguise? Far fetched probably, but I'd love to get input about this and know if anybody knows examples of this happening anywhere else.
*Is this fair? I really hope someone knows exactly why he missed 2007. But bad boy Jason Taylor kinda has a nice ring to it? Maybe not.
Taylor isn't a sexy prospect like Mike Moustakas or Dan Cortes. He will likely never hit for a BA above 265-270. But with his keen eye, developing power, and outstanding speed, it shouldn't matter. Only time will tell, but if Taylor could utilize his athleticism and make a move to CF, Taylor could develop into something truly special a la Carlos Beltran.*
*I probably don't need a pozterisk at the end of my post, but oh well. In Low A Spokane in the NWL, Beltran posted a 270/362/433 with 10 SB's. Compare Beltran's 795 OPS in a 705 OPS league to Taylor's 790 in a 693 OPS league. I know I'm dreaming because Carlos was always a CF, but you know what, it never hurts to dream. Especially as a Royals fan. Baseball Powerball, keep on dreaming baby.