Rays 2016 Top 50 Prospects: Number 13, Taylor Motter
By Mat Germain
Rays Top 50 Prospects includes a tremendous number of high-quality prospects. We at RCG are bringing you an in-depth look at those we consider to be the Top 50.
While gathering as much information as possible from various sources, we’re going to put it all together for your enjoyment and raise the bar on what you expect from a prospect knowledgable site. Stay tuned, check-in often, and please let us know how we’re doing. Being such a lengthy process, some encouragement will go a very long way. We hope you’ll enjoy reading this series as much as we enjoy putting it together. If anything, all of us will know that much more about the quality of the Rays system.
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We’ll go through this exercise in an odd way, to make things more interesting. The first one to be looked at will be #40, then #30, then #20, and #10. Then we’ll go through 41, 31, 21, and 11. We’ll go through each ranking until we are all done 11-50, all aside from the Top 10. Then we’ll have a regular countdown for the top 10.
The rankings will be based on all aspects of each prospect, but will focus first on how likely the player is to make an impact in MLB, and ceiling next. Mikie Mahtook and Enny Romero have been graduated to the majors and will not be included in these rankings.
Once completed, the Top 50 will be updated mid-season with an explanation to why they’re moving up or down, and the entire process will be repeated each season.
The next player to be examined in detail is …
#13: Taylor Motter, OF, 26 years old
- Bats: Right Ht/Wt: 6’1″ 195 lbs
- Drafted: in the 17th round of the 2011 draft
- 2015 Affiliate: Durham, AAA
- Anticipated MLB Arrival: 2016
Motter’s Fielding Stats
Motter’s 2015 Splits
- Follow him on Twitter: @taylormotter7
- He’s a huge Miami Dophins fan
- Names Edgar Renteria and Jeff Conine as some of his favourite childhood players
- Drafted in the same round as Texas OF Ryan Rua
- Managed a career high .179 ISO and an impressive .381 wOBA and 142 wRC+
- Just as impressive was the spread between his 10.2% BB rate and 17% SO rate
- Had at least 1 hit in 16 of 19 games in July
- Made the AA all-star team while with Montgomery in 2014
- His 142 wRC+ was second in the International league
- The 26 bases he stole were good for 10th in the Int’l League, his .837 OPS was second, and best of all his 43 doubles were tops and well ahead of 2nd place (34)
- Made the International League All-Start team in 2015 and named the AAA Rays MVP
- Ended the season with 2 HR
A supportive team mate, he tweeted the following after the rule 5 draft:
Played winter ball this year, managing the following:
2015 LIDOM: .254 / .331 / .392 with 6 doubles, 3 HR, 11 BB/14 SO
Below is a HR he managed in the winter leagues last year:
Best Tools & Abilities
- A true 5-tool ability
- Versatility and Athleticism
- Makeup and Work Ethic
Video of his Defensive Ability
The best quote I’ve read going through all 50 of these prospect rankings came from Motter as he was asked about his versatility during an interview for RaysNation’s Blog. He answered as follows:
"“You show up to the field not knowing your job, it’s a surprise every day which is great, keeps you on your toes, interested, and is great for a high energy guy like myself. But it’s not all fun and games, as hard as you see other players trying to perfect their skills at one position, a utility player has to work that hard plus for the other 6 or 7 positions he plays. It is a challenging job.”"
In short, Motter has knowingly put himself into a position where he knows that he has to go above and beyond what’s expected of any other prospect. He did so because he wants to be in MLB and to help his team win in whichever way he can. Don’t kid yourself, it would have been much easier for him to put his foot down, say he’s only playing CF, and to profile himself as an above-average centre-fielder.
Instead, Motter plays all over the field, and I do mean all over. He has 44 GP at 2B, 86 in 3B, 29 in CF, 74 in LF, 160 in RF, and 52 at SS. Now, of those positions, the one that gives him fits is 3B, where he managed a .886 fielding% in 2015 and .894 overall. But aside from 3B, he’s handled each position well and is particularly strong at 2B and all over the OF. He’s a young version of Ben Zobrist on the field. The question is, will he succeed as much at the plate?
Well, Zobrist didn’t start his career on fire at the plate. He struggled to a .155/.184/.206 line at Motter’s age. He rebounded well in 2008 and finally got comfortable enough on the field and at the plate to be of impact at age 28. There’s no telling how Motter’s game will translate to MLB.
But just as with Zobrist at the same age, he’s proven all that he needs to prove at the minor league level. He’s shown his speed, his power, and has improved his defensive play to the point where he could become the most valuable utility player the Rays have had since Zobrist left.
Lofty, that’s what my expectations are for Motter. He’s got the makeup, the work ethic, and the athletic ability to become one of the most impactful prospects that will make his debut in 2016. When I look for hope for a better season in 2016 than it turned out to be in 2015, I see Taylor Motter replacing injured players, providing opportunities to rest, and driving opponents nuts with gap power and speed on the bases.
Feb 27, 2015; Port Charlotte, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays infielder/outfielder Taylor Motter (69) poses for a photo during photo day at Charlotte Sports Park. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
Motter will be tough to send down to AAA if he has a strong spring training. With everything he’s shown and the value he has coming off the bench and being able to play so many positions, I believe the bench spot is his to lose.
When we look at the roster makeup, we see that the Rays could carry 3 catchers, could carry 5 outfielders, and still have a glut of players at 1B. That doesn’t even begin to consider Tim Beckham and Nick Franklin who will battle for middle-infield roles.
But if you were Kevin Cash and you had the choice of keeping Beckham or Franklin on the bench, or to go with Motter who can provide the same infield role AND add in outfield capabilities while also having speed well above-and-beyond theirs, which would you go with?
We expect that trades will clear up this picture, and that ultimately Motter will earn a spot on the bench for opening day and could become a regular by the end of the season.
In 2016, the Rays have 3-4 starting pitchers ready to make an impact when needed. They also have some bats ready to help out, and none is more exciting in impact and effectiveness than Motter’s. While we say Richie Shaffer and Mikie Mahtook make their presence felt in 2015, we’re about to find out whether Motter’s debut season is more impactful than both of them.
Next: Rays Top 50 Prospects: Number 23, Cameron Varga
A personal favourite on this list, Motter is the perfect complement to a Rays team that needs to find an edge by going above and beyond what others expect. There will be bumps in the road and he’ll need to keep working on his skills as he has through the minors, but with his overall package, we expect him to match expectations and possibly even exceed them.