Spring Training Report: 3/23/2014
TOP PROSPECT TAYLOR EXCITED FOR 2014
In a system looking for impact talent at the minor league level, no player stands out more for the Brewers than outfielder Tyrone Taylor. He had a breakout season at Class-A Wisconsin in 2013, as the speedy center fielder batted .274 with 33 doubles, 8 home runs, 19 stolen bases and 57 RBI in his first year of full-season ball.
After being limited by injury to just 18 games in 2012, Taylor suited up in 122 contests for the Timber Rattlers last season. He’s looking for more of the same in the health department as he gets ready for even bigger and better things in 2014.
“Really just to stay healthy on the field” said Taylor. “Be on the field because you can’t get better when you’re not, and keep having fun and working hard. I’ve just been working on getting my timing down out here, being aggressive on the bases and just having fun. Doing what I do.”
Taylor’s 2013 was fantastic for a 19-year-old playing in the Midwest League, though he did endure some inconsistency in the middle of the season. After a scorching June in which he hit .438, the center fielder from Torrance, California hit just .196 in the month of July. That July slump could very well be attributed to the increased workload that players face when making the jump to Class-A.
“There was a big adjustment” said Taylor. “I mean just going from high school to playing this amount of games is pretty crazy, but it’s a lot of fun and it’s definitely a wear on your body but it just prepared me, it let me know how hard I had to work this offseason for this season coming up, but this year should be better.”
Perhaps most impressive, was that Taylor was able to endure a rough month and bounce back with a strong August to finish out the season. His 2013 success hasn’t gone unnoticed either, as most prospect rankings have placed him at or near the top of the Brewers list coming in to this season. It’s something Taylor is aware of, but doesn’t let himself get caught up in.
“I mean I see it on Twitter all the time” Taylor said, “but it’s just very humbling. It makes me want to work harder and get better, just to prove myself on the field.”
The rare five-tool player, Taylor can hit for average and power, runs the bases well and has a good enough arm to allow him to play all three outfield positions if needed. He can also go and get the ball in center field, and though often overlooked, his defense is a tool that Taylor does not take for granted and has been looking to improve on even more as he prepares for the new season.
“Actually, I’ve been working a lot on my defense this spring” he said. “I’m trying to get better reads off the bat, and really that comes in batting practice so in batting practice I’ll take it very seriously and just try to keep getting better that way.”
The Brewers will look for Taylor – who just turned 20-years-old in January – to make the jump to High-A Brevard County in 2014. With continued success, he could very well find himself in Double-A before season’s end, providing the Brewers and their fans with a prospect to be excited about for years to come.
The Brewers rolled over Cincinnati by a score of 9-1 on Sunday afternoon. Jonathan Lucroy and Lyle Overbay led the Brewers attack, with Lucroy going 2-for-4 with a home run and Overbay contributing three hits, including a pair of doubles. Lots of minor league players got in on the action today for Milwaukee. Outfielder Kevin Mattison got the start in center field and went 2-for-4. Lance Roenicke, Nick Shaw, Matt Pagnozzi and Mitch Haniger all got one at bat. Each went 0-for-1. Pete Orr and Brandon Macias entered the game late as defensive substitutions.
BACK FIELD NOTES
I was at Goodyear on Sunday to watch the Nashville Sounds and the Huntsville Stars square off against the Cincinnati Reds. Here are a few quick thoughts from what I saw this afternoon.
– Drew Gagnon started for Huntsville. He made some nice pitches, but didn’t have his “A” game today and got hit around pretty good, including giving up a bomb to Juan Duran.
– The infield shuffling continued for the Brewers with Jason Rogers and Josh Prince once again on the infield today. Rogers played the whole game at third, but didn’t get much action that I saw. Prince started at second base and made a really nice play on the one ball I saw hit to him.
– Rogers also had a nice day at the plate, coming up with a couple of hits, including a triple that split a pair of outfielders and went to the wall. Rogers speed often gets overlooked because of his size, but he can actually move pretty well.
– Kentrail Davis crushed an opposite field home run for the Stars. It was a pretty good poke to left for the left-handed hitting Davis. He doesn’t get cheated on many swings, and when he connects, the ball is going to go a long way.
– Several of the Brewers youngest prospects saw action late in Huntsville’s game, with Gregory Munoz, Daniel Leonardo and Eric Williams all entering the game in the latter innings. Williams put a good swing on the ball in his only at bat, narrowly missing a home run. Leonardo booted the one ball I saw hit to him, and though he didn’t get the runner at first after recovering, he showed off a cannon of an arm from deep in the hole.
On Monday the Brewers will get their first look at the San Diego Padres. The Nashville Sounds will face the El Paso Chihuahuas at Maryvale Baseball Park with Mike Fiers on the mound. The Huntsville Stars will host the San Antonio Missions at Maryvale as well. Tyler Cravy is listed as the scheduled starter in that contest. Brevard and Wisconsin will travel to Peoria as the Manatees take on the Lake Elsinore Storm behind righty Jacob Barners, and the Timber Rattlers battle the Fort Wayne TinCaps with Zach Quintana getting the nod for Wisconsin.