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Astros: Pitcher Blake Taylor a dark horse candidate to make the roster

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WEST PALM BEACH, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 13: Blake Taylor #62 of the Houston Astros fields a ground ball in a drill during a team workout at FITTEAM Ballpark of The Palm Beaches on February 13, 2020 in West Palm Beach, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
WEST PALM BEACH, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 13: Blake Taylor #62 of the Houston Astros fields a ground ball in a drill during a team workout at FITTEAM Ballpark of The Palm Beaches on February 13, 2020 in West Palm Beach, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /
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Astros pitching prospect Blake Taylor isn’t one of the names often heard in the competition to make the opening day roster, but he may surprise everyone.

The Houston Astros acquired Blake Taylor, along with outfielder Kenedy Corona, from the New York Mets in exchange for Jake Marisnick this past December and it may turn out to be a smart transaction. Taylor has yet to make a pitch in the big leagues, but this may be the season he makes the leap to the Majors.

Not only has Taylor never pitched for a Major League team, but he’s also only appeared in three games at the AAA level in his sevens years of Minor League baseball. He was primarily used as a starting pitcher in his first six seasons until the Mets decided to switch him over to the role of a reliever in 2019. Looking at his results out of the pen, he seemed to have found his niche.

In the seasons of 2017-18, Taylor started 33 games of his 35 appearances and had a record of 4-17 and a combined 5.17 ERA. His WHIP eclipsed 1.5 both of those seasons and his SO/9 was 8.6 at best. In 2019, he pitched in 40 games as a relief pitcher and his ERA dropped to 2.16 and had a 1.095 WHIP while striking out 10 batters per nine innings. As you can see, his results were night and day between starting and pitching out of the bullpen.

When Taylor arrived to spring training as a non-roster invitee, the pitching coaches sat him down and showed him all of their statistical data on his pitches and actually compared his potential to Bruce Suter of the Milwaukee Brewers. He was impressed with the individuality of the training and attention he was already receiving.

"“They show you everything,” Taylor said. “They say, ‘This is how much hop your fastball has, this is how much your slider has.’ The information is there and they’re hands-on and work with you. Everything is specialized to you. It’s not cookie-cutter. … I hope to make an impact on this team and if I break with the team that’s awesome, and if I don’t, I’m going to work my [butt] off to get up there.” via Brian McTaggart of MLB.com"

Another edge Taylor may have in his battle to make the roster is that he’s a lefty, a need that manager Dusty Baker has already mentioned as one the assets he wants in his bullpen. Cionel Perez, Kent Emanuel, and Framber Valdez are the only other left-handed pitches on the 40-man roster.

Next. Astros: Five bold predictions for position players in 2020. dark

There’s a lot of spring training ahead of us and quite a few pitchers that are going to get their chance to showcase their skills and battle for a spot on the opening day roster. But Blake Taylor is one to keep a close watch on, he may just sneak up on us all and come back to Houston with the team.

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