Recent Orioles draft choice Matt Taylor-a left-handed pitcher out of Middle Georgia college-may have only been a fifth-rounder by Baltimore, but when it comes to enthusiasm about wearing Orange and Black, the former Warriors pitcher may have already distinguished himself as the ace of the staff.
Taylor-a 6’2” LHP-OF selected by Baltimore with the 155 selection in last week’s MLB Amateur draft-joined Thyrl Nelson of “The Mobtown Sports Beat” to chat about having his name drawn by the O’s.
“It’s a great honor to be part of the Baltimore organization now,” Taylor told Nelson. “I’m the kind of guy who wants to get there as soon as I can and help out this ball club as soon as possible.”
The ex-Alabama transfer started 15 games for Middle Georgia College-a JUCO school that plays in the same conference as Orioles’ right fielder Nick Markakis’ alma mater, Young Harris College-and appeared in another game in relief for the Warriors.
His stats were very impressive; hence drawing attention from Andy MacPhail, Scouting Director Joe Jordan, and Buck Showalter.
Taylor worked in a team-high 81 innings while only allowing 71 hits and a 3.31 ERA. He did only finish 7-5 , but his impressive strikeout numbers made up for those marks-128 K’s and just 29 walks shows that he has the stuff to compete on the mound.
However, Taylor-expected to begin the year at Single-A Aberdeen-said that despite his eagerness to get to the big league level, he knows that he still would like to perfect as many pitches as possible to ready himself to go up against major league hitters.
But, he’s ready to learn, Taylor said.
“When you get into the organization and you have outstanding pitching coaches that can help you out, you just kind of wait and see, and you just work hard and see what ends up happening with that.”
Taylor admitted that he has a repertoire of pitches but has fallen in love with and really only refined two of them-his sinking fastball and his slider, which he says is his out pitch.
“It’s a plus pitch,” Taylor told Nelson. “It is anywhere from 84-87. And I got a fastball that’s probably 90-94 on a good day. I’m kind…working to develop on those other pitches right now.”
And even more special? He wasn’t even focusing on the speed of his pitches-he was worrying about his control.
And with a 128 K-29BB ratio, it looks like he did okay in that department.
And that approach helped Taylor out in the long run he said cause it stopped him from trying too hard and losing focus.
“When scouts came to the games they put a big emphasis on the radar guns and things like that. I guess you’re curious to know how fast you throw sometimes,” Taylor said. “This was the first year I wasn’t really worried about my velocity…I was more worried about my control.“
“And that’s something I ended up really improving on and I actually ended up gaining velocity because I wasn’t trying to throw as hard as I used to in the past.”
And given Nick Markakis’ track record at transitioning to full-time outfielder when he was chosen by the Birds (Markakis was actually 12-0 with a 1.69 ERA in 2003 when the Orioles drafted him seventh overall), who knows-maybe Taylor, who hit .366 with two home runs, 14 RBIs, and 14 SB in 82 AB-could also fall back on that transition if he felt so inclined as well.
“Well I had several teams that said they’d let me hit if I did not pan out as a pitcher,” Taylor replied before mentioning his favorite part of the game of baseball.
“I love playing defense,” Taylor laughed. “I played outfield in junior-college and I actually prefer playing outfield over anything, including hitting and pitching. It’s probably my favorite thing about the game.”
But again, coming back to reality-he knows that he is probably going to make his MLB-career based on the strength of his left arm and his foot on the mound.
“The consensus was they wanted me to really work on pitching, and just focus on pitching. And really see how far that can carry me.”
WNST thanks Matt Taylor for joining WNST! Be sure to follow him on Twitter @MaTaylor24! WNST-We Never Stop Talking Baltimore Sports!