Taylor Walls arrived on the scene Saturday night for the Tampa Bay Rays to take over for fan favorite, Willy Adames. Although filling Adames’ shoes will be extremely difficult, the rookie has shown promise in his first three MLB games.
Before we dive too deep into his first MLB games, let’s look back first at who Taylor Walls is. Yes, you know he’s a top prospect, but do you know why?
Want your voice heard? Join the Rays Colored Glasses team!
Who is Taylor Walls?
Taylor Walls was drafted in the third round of the 2017 MLB draft out of Florida State University. Walls put up very solid stats at FSU, including a .355 batting average in 63 games his sophomore season. His average, along with his 72 runs scored earned him 2016 First Team All-American honors.
After the Tampa Bay Rays decided to make Walls the 88th overall pick in 2017, he was sent to Low-A Hudson Valley to finish the 2017 season.
Walls spent the 2018 season with Single-A Bowling Green and started to show he was worthy of a third-round draft selection. In 120 games with Bowling Green, Walls hit .304 with a .393 on-base percentage.
His 57 RBI’s in 2018 are still a single-season record for Walls, as well as his 31 stolen bases.
In 2019 Walls split time between High-A Charlotte and Double-A Montgomery. Walls spent most of the season in Montgomery, where he saw his average reach .270 and a slugging percentage of .479, a career-high.
Walls would have likely started the 2020 season in Triple-A Durham and would have had a real chance to play for the Rays in 2020. However, COVID-19 changed those plans.
Taylor Walls was sent to Durham to start the 2021 season, but as you can see, that didn’t last long.
In only 14 games with Durham this season, Walls hit .327 with an on-base percentage of .468. Pairing that with two home runs, 10 RBI’s, and 13 walks, Walls forced the hands of the Rays.
Taylor Walls first MLB series
Taylor Walls suited up in a Tampa Bay Rays uniform for the first time on Saturday, May 22nd, 2021. Walls was penciled in the 8th spot in the lineup, playing shortstop.
Walls hit a line drive to center in his first at-bat, but it was caught by Blue Jays centerfielder Jonathan Davis in what was a nice play.
In his second career at-bat, Walls laced a ball to the outfield, this time that wouldn’t be caught.
Taylor Walls would add another double, and a run scored to his MLB debut total, seeing him finish the night 2-for-4.
Sunday was more of the same for Taylor Walls, adding another hit, and run, to his total for the season, helping the Rays win their 10th straight game Sunday afternoon.
On Monday afternoon, Walls once again helped the Rays pick up a win, without even getting a hit. Walls walked twice in the game, including a bases-loaded walk in the top of the first, giving the Rays a 1-0 lead. This happened on the next pitch
Although it took extra innings, the Tampa Bay Rays would go on to win their 11th in a row, 14-8 over the Blue Jays.
Early thoughts on Taylor Walls
Although it has only been three games, Taylor Walls looks solid.
His totals for his first three games look like this. 3-for-12 at the plate, two doubles, four runs scored, one RBI, and two walks. Now, I want to focus on the walks.
It is very easy for rookies to be jumpy at the plate, especially early in their careers. The patience Walls has shown at the plate through three games has been outstanding. It is what has impressed me the most about him.
Let’s take his bases-loaded walk in the first inning on Monday for example. Taylor had to be thinking about driving in a couple of runs and making a good impression on his new teammates.
However, he watched Ji-Man Choi draw a walk in front of him and knew Blue Jays starter Trent Thornton was on the ropes. He quickly got down in the count 1-2 before fouling off a tough two-strike pitch, and taking three straight to draw the walk, and push a run across for the Rays.
For me, this tells me all I need to know about Taylor Walls. He’s a gamer and never gives up on an at-bat. I’m excited to continue to watch him grow, and Tampa Bay Rays fans should be excited to have this talented guy on their team.