The Mets’ farm system rates in the top third of baseball due to a plethora of pitching prospects. In addition to Zack Wheeler, Rafael Montero and Cory Mazzoni in the upper minors, the organization’s Florida State League affiliate has the minor leagues’ best rotation. It features Noah Syndergaard, Domingo Tapia, Luis Mateo (who is on the disabled list with an elbow injury), Michael Fulmer (DL – Meniscus) and Hansel Robles. The Savannah Sand Gnats are stocked with intriguing arms as well. Mike Newman recently discussed Gabriel Ynoa and Rainy Lara with his audience, and I mentioned the resurgence of Steven Matz several weeks ago.
Enter Logan Taylor.
The Mets selected Taylor out of East Oklahoma State College in the 11th round of the 2012 Rule 4 draft. A right-handed starter, Taylor made his debut at Brooklyn last year, striking out 26% of the 73 batters he faced, while issuing just two free passes. He stands 6’5″ and is listed generously at 230 pounds. His thick frame is mature for a 21-year-old, but he looks to be in good shape and fairly durable. Taylor isn’t projectable, but with his four-seam fastball sitting 93-94 MPH and touching 95 MPH, he doesn’t need to be.
Taylor works off three variations of his fastball. In addition to his four seamer, he relies heavily on his cutter and two-seam fastball. Due to his height as well as an over-the-top delivery, Taylor’s fastballs move on a steep downward plane. The slowest of the three offerings when I saw him recently was his two-seam fastball, which sat 88-90 MPH and broke down and in on right-handed batters. The addition of Taylor’s cutter, which breaks away from right-handed hitters and sits 91-93, makes him difficult to hit.
The breaking ball in his arsenal is a 77-79 MPH overhand 12-6 curve. It’s a swing and miss pitch for him, but it breaks early and has a slight upward hump. As he advances, he’ll need to tighten the rotation of the offering. Against Lakewood, Taylor didn’t use his changeup when I was charting, but an off-speed pitch he can throw for strikes will help him remain a starting pitcher.
Taylor controls his diverse arsenal well, but he needs to trust his stuff more. Too often he fell behind hitters by nibbling on the corners. Once behind, he kept many of his fastballs over the plate, but there were just two hard hit balls against him on the day.
The biggest obstacle facing Taylor is stress likely induced on his shoulder by his high-effort delivery. The primary culprit being his front leg plant. First, when he plants that leg, his head jerks hard creating torque through his shoulder. The stress is worsened by the fact that his arm circle is is just past his back leg when his foot hits the dirt. That means his arm must travel a long way prior to releasing the ball, putting even more stress on his shoulder. Don’t read this as a commentary on his future health, each pitcher’s body can handle different amounts of stress, rather there may become a point the Mets decide his delivery is more suited for the bullpen.
A strike thrower with at least four useable pitches, Logan Taylor is the most polished arm on the Savannah staff. He’ll spend the majority of the season in the South Atlantic League, but he or Matz will be the first to fill a rotation spot in St. Lucie should a vacancy arise. The Mets will give him every chance to start, but his ultimate role could be in the bullpen due to his high effort delivery and organizational depth.
The rich get richer.