The Pirates drafted Taylor in the second round as a California high schooler in 2013, then sent him to the Mets a year later as the player to be named in a deal for Ike Davis. He had Tommy John surgery in 2015 that delayed his arrival in full-season ball until his fifth year as a pro, and he had little success as a starter once he got there. He performed much better once New York made him a full-time reliever in 2019, after which the Astros acquired him and outfield prospect Kenedy Corona in exchange for Jake Marisnick in December.
Coming out of the bullpen, Taylor has simplified his approach and goes after hitters with two solid pitches. His 91-94 mph four-seam fastball tops out at 96 and gets swings and misses in the strike zone because it features good spin rates and riding life. His low-80s slider features both horizontal break and depth, though he runs into trouble when he leaves it up in the zone.
The change in roles has helped Taylor throw more strikes, as he cut his walk rate from 5.6 per nine innings in 2018 to 3.2 last season. More than just a lefty specialist, he limited right-handers to a .567 OPS a year ago. Given the lack of southpaws on Houston's 40-man roster, he could get his first big league opportunity in the near future.
Scouting grades: Fastball: 55 | Curve: 50 | Changeup: 40 | Control: 45 | Overall: 45
When the Pirates drafted Taylor in the second round of the 2013 Draft, the SoCal high school lefty was all about projection. A year, and a trade to the Mets for Ike Davis, later, it's still more about future potential than current performance.
Taylor has a lot to work with, starting with a strong and projectable 6-foot-3 frame. He committed himself to an offseason conditioning program over the winter and that should help him find consistency with his fastball. Depending on the day you might have seen Taylor during his first year of pro ball, you might have seen a fastball in the upper-80s. On another day, Taylor may have been up to 92-94 mph, a range he should be able to settle in with, thrown with sink to generate groundball outs. He's shown the ability to spin the ball as well and continues to work on his offspeed stuff.
Taylor has yet to make it to full-season ball, finally making it to short-season Brooklyn in July, so he still has a long way to go.
Scouting grades: Fastball: 60 | Curve: 50 | Changeup: 40 | Control: 45 | Overall: 45
A projectable left-hander taken in the 2013 Draft, Taylor rose into the second round with a strong spring. He was then acquired by the Mets a year later as the player to be named later to complete the Ike Davis trade. It might take Taylor a while to move up the ladder, but the Mets could have found a good value if they are patient.
Taylor can throw his fastball in the low 90s with ease, and with room to add strength, there could be more in the tank. His curveball has the chance to be an above-average pitch.
Taylor needs to work on his changeup and his command, not uncommon for such a young hurler. When those aspects of his game round into shape, he has the chance to be a big league starter.
Scouting Grades* (present/future): Fastball: 5/6 | Curveball: 4/5 | Changeup: 3/5 | Control: 4/5 | Overall: 4/5
A few years ago, the Pirates went very high-ceiling, high school pitching heavy in the Draft. That wasn't the case quite as much in 2013, but they still put their toes in those waters by taking the projectable Taylor in the second round. Tall and left-handed are always a good combination. Add in the fact that he sits in the low 90s with his fastball with ease, showing the ability to reach back for more and a curve that should be above-average in the future and there's clearly a lot to like about the SoCal southpaw. His changeup will have to improve, but his aptitude for pitching makes it seem likely that will give him a viable third weapon. Like with most young pitching, it may take a little longer for things to come together, but he might be well worth the wait.