Our countdown comes to a close with the top prospect in the Angels system, a kid that went from sleeper to bona fide top prospect: Taylor Lindsey.
Position: 2B Highest Level: Double-A
Bats: L Throws: R Height: 6'0" Weight: 195
Age: 22 Born: 12/2/1991
2013 Rank: 4
2013 Season Stats
Double-A: 566 PA, .274 AVG, .339 OBP, .441 SLG, 22 2B, 6 3B, 17 HR, 56 RBI, 91 SO, 4 SB, 4 CS, .303 BABIP, .346 wOBA, 119 wRC+
AFL: 89 PA, .225 AVG, .270 OBP, .363 SLG, 3 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 10 RBI, 17 SO, 0 SB, 0 CS, .250 BABIP, .288 wOBA, 68 wRC+
Contact = B+
Lindsey’s approach at the plate continued to prove to be uniquely effective. Lindsey’s hands begin low, around his waist with a slight raise as he loads. Most pitches tend to be belt high or lower so Lindsey’s path the baseball is a short and direct one. He has no problem catching up with good fastballs.
Power = B
In previous seasons, Lindsey tended to spray balls into gaps more often than he placed balls over fences. However, as his body has matured we’ve seen Lindsey become thicker, more muscular. As a result, Taylor set a career high in homeruns in the most difficult environment to do so. Lindsey has average power for a second baseman and average in general which makes the fact that he’s a middle infielder all the more exciting.
Discipline = B
Before this season, Lindsey was simply passable in this department. He didn’t walk often, but he also didn’t go chasing a lot of pitches out of the zone. Upon reaching AA, Lindsey improved upon previous walk totals, which was an unforeseen development as the opposite tends to occur in AA. This is a testament to Lindsey’s hard work and coachability.
Speed = C-
Lindsey ‘s footspeed on the bases isn’t going to “wow” anyone, especially as a middle infielder but overall I’d call it average or even slightly below.
Arm = C
Taylor’s arm has improved every year since being drafted. What was once considered “fringe” even for a second baseman has grown into a passable arm, no worse than the average second baseman, which is great for his future with the organization.
Fielding = B
Another area which Lindsey has really improved is his fielding. When he was first drafted this was where most scouts believed he’d really struggled, and he did at first. Now reports are mixed but I’ve witnessed Lindsey make some turns on double plays that even Kendrick would’ve struggled with.
Range = C+
Despite having only average speed on the base paths, Lindsey’s first step at second base has become increasingly quick and he’s proven particularly adept to his glove side where he’s made plays in the hole that only elite second baseman can make. At the same time, Lindsey’s notably sluggish on balls up the middle, he’ll definitely need to improve in that area.
Performance = B+
Statistically, Lindsey’s best season was in Orem, but considering the environment he was in and the fact that he was facing advanced pitching for the first time in his career, I’d call 2013 his best season. Lindsey proved his ability to make the necessary adjustments which bodes well for his future prospects as a Major League second baseman. It also helps that he performed in AA in his age 21 season. Ideally prospects reach AA around age 22 or 23, so for Lindsey to hold his own his own this season was huge. He potentially could be in the Majors by age 22 or 23.
Projection = B+
Before this season, I envisioned Lindsey being a .270 30 DB 10 HR type of second baseman. But as he put on more muscle, refined his game and proved capable of making adjustments and adding more homeruns and walks to his game, it’s possible Lindsey could become considerably more. I still see him being a .270 hitter, but 30 DB and 15-20 HR is becoming increasingly likely.
Grade as a Prospect = B
He’s young for his development level, flashing offensive upside, defensive adequacy, and increased refinement as a prospect.
Estimated MLB Arrival Date = Beginning of 2015
One could argue that Lindsey is ready for the show right now, and that person wouldn’t necessarily be wrong, Lindsey has made major strides this year in refining his game. However, Howie Kendrick has put up solid numbers and is one of the Angels prime trade candidates. The Angels will likely allow Lindsey to further develop his game in AAA for 2014 but he could potentially push for playing time with a strong showing. Potentially standing in his way is newly acquired infielder Grant Green who has a fairly similar skill profile to Lindsey with a bit more athleticism and plate coverage.
2013 in Review*
Coming into the 2013 season, the sentiment with Taylor Lindsey was that the Angels may have had themselves a little something. It turns out, they may have a lot of something. What Lindsey did in Double-A this year is the very definition of a breakout year.
There was never any doubt that Lindsey could square up a ball, but combining that with a bit of power and discipline was something he hadn't really put together yet. Even in the California League in 2012 when Lindsey really started getting noticed, he posted a below average 91 wRC+. Ironically, it took him going to a much tougher environment for his bat to bust loose.
Lindsey finally tapped into his power potential by rapping out 17 homers and 45 extra-base hits overall. And he did this while nearly doubling his walk rate. As good as he was, he could've been even better if not for Dickey-Stephens Park limiting him to a .685 OPS as opposed to his .857 OPS on the road.
It really just all came together for Lindsey last year who snuck onto a few top 100 prospect lists thanks to his impressive campaign.
Lindsey will spend 2014 in Triple-A where he could really do some impressive things offensively. Mainly, he'll just be ironing out a few of the smaller holes in his approach and continuing to refine his ever-improving defense. Other than that, he just has to be patient.
A lot of fans wouldn't mind seeing Lindsey get a shot at the majors, but that isn't going to come unless Howie Kendrick gets hurt or traded. Injury is always a possibility, but a trade of Kendrick probably won't be happening until after the season at the earliest. It is always possible that it is Lindsey who ends up getting traded instead if the Angels decide to push for a major addition at the trade deadline.
Either way, someone is going to wind up with a real keeper on their hands. Lindsey isn't going to win any batting titles, Gold Gloves or Home Run Derbys, but he has a very solid all-around game. Assuming that he is able to continue to handle left-handed pitching as well as he did in 2013, there is little reason to believe that Lindsey won't be a major league starter for a good ten to fifteen years.
*As we do every year, the scouting reports and grades are provided by Scotty Allen while Garrett Wilson provides the 2013 in Review and Looking Ahead sections.