Frisco, Texas —— After a one-month detour in High-A, Logan Taylor is once again where he wants to be.
The Seattle Mariners utility prospect—who spent 2017 with the High-A Modesto Nuts, but lost the second half of the summer to an oblique strain—was sent back to the California League to start this year. The repeat was less than ideal for the Texas A&M product, but Taylor made the most of his time in Modesto, slashing .291/.397/.449/.846 in 35 games with nine doubles, three home runs, and 22 walks in 127 at-bats before earning a mid-May promotion to the Double-A Arkansas Travelers of the Texas League.
The promotion had been plainly on Taylor’s mind since the very first week of the season. Now back with his cohort—the same core that won the Cal League title together last season—he’s in high spirits as he takes on Double-A for the first time in his career.
“I had a pretty good month in Modesto, and I really credit that to the guys that I got to do early work with every day back there,” he told me over the weekend a few hours before a Travs’ road game in Frisco. “Whether it was hitting on the field, or getting out and doing some things defensively that I needed to do to feel comfortable that night for the game, I put in a lot of extra work with the guys out there. That really helped me prepare for this.”
Players readily admit the jump from High-A to Double-A is the biggest in baseball, with most position players like Taylor noting the learning curve at the plate can be especially brutal. Taylor feels that, too — “in the Cal League, if it was 2-0, you could pretty much bank on a fastball, but here, guys can throw two or three pitches at any time, in any count,” he acknowledged — but for the Seattle Mariners farmhand, the biggest adjustment has come defensively.
Taylor spent quite a bit of time this spring learning to play the outfield, and he found himself there nearly every day in Modesto. But the outfield is crowded in Arkansas, with Chuck Taylor, Braden Bishop, and Eric Filia set to take virtually all the innings out there. That’s pushed Taylor back into the infield — and forced him to quickly knock off the rust in a bid to play catch-up.
“It’s kind of weird,” he admitted. “I only played three games in the infield in Modesto, and now that I’m here, that’s pretty much the only place I play.”
Such is life coming off the bench. It’s an unpredictable but valuable gig that organizations like the Seattle Mariners value highly, but it requires prospects like Logan Taylor to put in a lot of early work just to keep pace. And it makes the next step forward towards the big leagues even more unpredictable for Taylor. Early returns are solid—he’s slashing .291/.339/.455/.793 with four doubles through his first 15 games for the Travelers entering play Wednesday—but inconsistent playing time and unpredictable defensive assignments will continue to test the utility man as he pushes ahead to Seattle.
“I really don’t know what my path forward would be, to be honest with you,” he said. “Getting to the big leagues feels a little like trying to predict where you’re going to go in the draft. You really have no idea, unless you’re a top prospect. Take Braden, he’s going to play center field every single day. That’s his position. He’s a great outfielder. He knows where he’s going to be. But for me, it’s different. I really can’t predict it. The utility role is a possibility. I’m really working with it and preparing for it so I can figure it out.”
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