Halo HQ Top 10 Prospects: #6 Taylor Ward

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Updated: February 7, 2017

Next up on the Halo Headquarters top ten prospect countdown is Dipoto-era first round pick Taylor Ward.

Taylor Ward

Profile: 6’1”/185 lbs; Born 12/14/1993 (age 23); Dayton, OH; Fresno State University; Drafted 2015, 1st round, 26th pick; C; Bats Right/Throws Right

Halo HQ 30-80 Scale (Current/Ceiling)

Hitting: 45/55, Power: 40/45, Run: 40/40, Arm: 60/75, Fielding: 55/60, Overall: 50/60

Batting

Ward surprised a lot of people in 2015 when he had a slash line of .348/.457/.438 after being a controversial first round draft pick. The only problem was he had BABIPs of .360 in Orem and .408 in Burlington. He came back down to Earth in 2016 with a .249 average on a BABIP of .279. Ward won’t blow a lot of people away with his bat, but he should be a decent hitter. People have already dismissed him as a top prospect after his weak showing in the hitter friendly California League, but he stays on the top of my list due to a strong showing both at the end of the A+ ball season and the Arizona Fall League. Over the last month in A+ ball, he hit .299 and ended the season on a six game hitting streak with ten hits over the streak. He was an all star in the AFL, where he hit .283 and had an OPS of .698. His vision is already plus, as his OBP was .323 despite the .249 average this season. He will work a lot of walks and will get on base at every level. He doesn’t have a lot of pop, which is why many are already deeming him a bust. He had only 21 extra base hits in 123 games last season. He has a swing that includes a long leg stride, so that causes his swing to get long from time to time. If he can keep his swing consistent, the power should start developing. He should also grow to be a bit stronger as he progresses through the system, meaning the number of extra base hits will go up. Give Ward time and he could grow to be a Carlos Perez/Jett Bandy hybrid offensively.

Running

Ward’s a catcher. He has stolen six bases in almost 200 games. He won’t get any faster, but he should stay the same speed until he reaches the majors. Catchers aren’t known for their speed and Ward is no exception.

Fielding

Now we’re getting into the reason why Ward is still on this list. Behind the plate, Ward made just five errors in 792.1 innings last season, good enough for a fielding percentage of .994. He also had a caught stealing percentage of 38%. Last season, Carlos Perez had a fielding percentage of .995 and a CS% of 38%. He was nominated for a Gold Glove. Ward is just as good a fielder as Perez is behind the plate. He has a cannon for an arm, so that CS% may rise as he faces older competition. The aspect of his fielding he has to work on is not allowing passed balls. Last season, he let 19 balls pass. Perez only let four behind him. If he someday wants to be a major league starting catcher, he has to stop letting balls get passed him. If he can do that, he could be a premier defender behind the plate.

Overall/Projections

Right now, Ward looks like Jeff Mathis 2.0. He’s a good fielder with decent contact and little power. His floor is actually pretty high, as Mathis has been a major league contributor for well over a decade now. I don’t think Ward will hit lower than .230 at the major league level like Mathis, but he also won’t be a .300 hitter. At his best, he’s a Salvador Perez type of catcher. Not great, but not all backstops can be a Yadier Molina. Perez is a perennial All-Star, so that’s a pretty high ceiling. If he could be that Perez type of player, he will be a solid catcher for years.

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