Top 50 Jays Prospects, Jays Journal Edition: #38 Mitchell Taylor

Clocking in at a very young age and within the top ceilinged players of the 2010 draft for the Jays is…

#38: Mitchell Burton Taylor

image courtesy of jaysprospect.com

18 yrs old / 6’0″ 160 lbs

Born: May 11th 1992, in Spring Texas

Bats Left   Throws Left

High School Team: Spring High School

College: N/A, had committed to Houston before signing with the Jays

Drafted: Drafted by the Jays in the 7th rd of the 2010 draft, signed for $367,500 ($217,500 above recommended maximum slot amount by MLB)

Wears: did not play in 2010 but is locked in with #74 for the GCL Blue Jays

Quick Facts:

  • Made the 1st team all-district for District 13-5A and the 2nd team all Houston while playing as a Senior for the Spring Lions.
  • Josh Beckett also played for the Spring Lions in 1999.
  • His curve ball is a true above-average pitch.
  • Was credited with “carrying his team” to and throughout the playoffs in 2010.

Stats:

  • NA. Did not pitch professionally in 2010.

Interviews/Videos:

Extra Information and previous experience:

  • Mitchell’s claim to fame thus far was his performances in the Teaxs-5A playoffs which will be examined below. Needless to say, he carried his team as far as he could!

Before I write anything about Mitchell Taylor I want to make 1 statement: Tim Lincecum is listed at 5’10″ 170 lbs.

Now that we have the size issue out of the way because Taylor is bigger than that, let’s see what he has to offer. When reading up on this guy, everyone seemed to agree that he had a good fastball during early reports for the 2010 draft, and that his curve is even better, but his fastball got even better as the draft approached, making his ceiling much higher as a result. Baseball America rightly predicted he would go somewhere around the 4th round as a result, but everyone kept focusing on his size instead of his true ceiling potential, so he slipped to the 7th round. I believe that if most clubs forget about the size thing for a second, they would all rank Mitchell Taylor much higher than the 7th round. The Jays got a boat load of potential when they took Mitchell and signed him at a rate that was more than double the recommended slot amount, as stated above.

The following is a quote from College Park coach Jason Washburn after watching Mitchell strike out 10 of his hitters over 7 innings while only allowing 5 hits and 3 runs;

“(Taylor) was pretty special tonight. He was really grooving — I think through four innings his pitch count was only 40,” College Park coach Jason Washburn said. “He was really good tonight, and had a lot to do with our offensive woes tonight. That guy’s good — there’s a reason that so many people were here to see him tonight.”

It’s always nice to see the opposing coach give the other team’s starter so much credit. It usually means that he did extremely well and that the coach’s team had a hard time getting good swings on him. Mitchell’s performance during the playoff series for the Spring Lions was outstanding and showed just how advanced Mitchell is compared to other HS pitchers.

The reason Mitchell’s stuff played up in HS is because he had both a well-located fastball and some really great off speed stuff. He has a high leg kick, which you can see in the picture and his video linked above, that is pretty high in comparison to other pitchers as he extends his entire legs as he raises it instead of bending at the knee. The important part of his throwing motion is that it is not a violent one, it’s of the loose and smooth variety. He uses every single ounce of his momentum to get pitches downrange and is very accurate for a high school pitcher.

That Taylor is so polished and tested in the playoffs is the reason he ranks as highly as he does on our list. That and the fact that I love any LHP with starting potential. If he can really sustain a 91-93 MPH heater while also remaining healthy and durable, there’s no reason to believe that he can’t become a #3 starter with his great curve as a clear strike out weapon. He is earily similar in makeup – as most describe him as having a bulldog mentality – as Kyle Drabek. Both have big biting curve balls that can buckle a hitter’s knees and both are of similar size when drafted (Drabek was listed at 6’0″ and 190 lbs when drafted by the Phillies). The big difference between the two is that Drabek was able to reach the mid-to-high 90s and that he had a bit more weight added to his frame already. That’s part of what makes Drabek a true #1 potential prospect, while Taylor’s ceiling is lower.

There’s not a single person out there who knows how well Taylor’s frame will allow him to pitch as he progresses through the minors and whether or not he’ll be able to add size and strength to it. If he does add to it, you can expect some truly great things from the lefty. The fact that he has a weapon like his curve and already holds MLB caliber velocity should mean an improvement in all areas if he adds strength, something that could make his ceiling much higher than predictable at this point. But, we have to go with what we know, so, for now, his ceiling will remain a #4 starter with a pretty decent chance of growing into a #3 starter.

I know that I’m a bigger fan of Taylor’s than most people out there, but I see him as having the potential to be a key cog in an MLB rotation at some point. The Jays seem to agree since they really paid a ton over slot to get him signed. The fact that he is able to step up in the moment over and over again, as he did in the playoffs before being drafted, is the reason I ranked him ahead of Nicolino. Both are highly rated LHP in the Jays system, but from what I’ve read Nicolino may be a little more raw than Taylor overall. They are definitely big reasons for the Jays system being ranked so highly by Baseball America this off season.

Expected 2011 Team: GCL Blue Jays or Vancouver Canadians

Ultimate ceiling if he puts it all together: #3 starter

- MG

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