Taylor, Beede pitch best outings of season

BOX SCORES: SAC / RIC / SJ / AUG

Right-handers Cory Taylor and Tyler Beede capped off the opening month of the minor league baseball season with two of their best starts of the year.

Taylor, pitching for the Richmond Flying Squirrels, made his fourth start of 2017, though it was his fifth appearance. He set his season-high for swinging strikes (12), pitches thrown (85), and innings (6) while setting a season-low for baserunners allowed (5).

Thanks to MiLB's YouTube channel, we get a glance into Taylor's start with this entire at-bat — his fifth strikeout of the day. It's an especially good look at Taylor and two best pitches because of the Hartford Yard Goats' center-field camera.

I'm intrigued by the first pitch he throws. It appears to be a nasty two-seamer down and in on a right-hander inducing one of two swinging strikes in the at-bat. It has considerable lateral, as well as vertical movement. Pitch two (1:16) is the same two-seamer, well-placed, but with not as much lateral movement. Pitch three (1:40) is a third two-seamer, middle-in, that the hitter turns around a slashes foul. Pitch four (2:12) he introduces the slider and it misses low and away. Pitch five (2:40) he goes back-to-back sliders and throws it to the same location. This time, he picks up the swing-and-miss strike three.

I expect Taylor to spend most of 2017 in Richmond unless he forces the hand of the Giants' braintrust and proves he's too advanced for the Eastern League. If he finds himself in Sacramento, it will be interesting to check into the development of his changeup.

One blunder from Taylor through four starts has been the abundance of walks issued. He gave the free pass 34 times in 119 innings last season, culminating in a solid 6.6% walk rate. But with 14 walks already issued in 2017, he's almost halfway to his previous year's total, making his current walk rate 15.4%. 

Impressive, though, are his .200 opposing batting average and 29.7% strikeout rate.

In Tacoma, Wash., Beede provided work for his infielders, forcing a season-high 12 ground balls. He lived in the strike zone most of the outing, setting a season-high in strikes thrown (61) in 88 pitches. A double, two singles, and a lone walk were the only four baserunners allowed to reach during Beede's strong six innings. 

OTHER NOTES

— Check out this insane home-run saving grab made by Slade Heathcott a few nights ago. Though he's playing his second full-season in the Eastern League, and first since 2013, Heathcott did finish April with some of the best all-around numbers in the system. The 26-year-old former Yankees prospect owns a 136 wRC+ (third in the organization) as well as a slash line of .282/.363/.465. He struck out 16% of the time and walked 8.6% in 81 plate appearances.

— Mr. Doubles, also known as Hunter Cole, now has eight on the year and is second in the Eastern League in that category. He's in the middle of a huge slump-busting streak, slashing .406/.500/.688 in his last nine games thanks to 13 hits, including seven (!) doubles, and six walks. During the streak, he's struck out just four times in 38 plate appearances, dropping his season mark from 30.9% to 21.3%. 

Ryder Jones appeared in left field in Sunday's River Cats game. It's significant because it's the first time he's played outfield in the minor leagues. Roger Munter of McCovey Chronicles reported he didn't look great, getting a late break on a shallow pop fly and then misplaying the hop. 

— Right-handed reliever Dusten Knight got a much-deserved promotion to the Pacific Coast League on Sunday, being transferred to Sacramento from San Jose. He has struck out 114 in 97 innings in the California League, including 24 in 16.1 innings (42.1 K%) this year. In eight outings, he appeared to be too advanced for High-A ball. Only eight people (six hits, one walk, and one HBP) had reached base in his 16.1 innings. Knight is now 26, being drafted back in 2013 in the 28th round out of a college that no longer exists — the University of Texas-Pan American.

TOMORROW'S STARTERS

TOP-30 PROSPECTS ROUNDUP

  1. Tyler Beede: 6 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 3 K
  2. Christian Arroyo: 1-for-5, SO
  3. Bryan Reynolds: 0-for-4, SO
  4. Steven Duggar: DNP
  5. Chris Shaw: 1-for-3, R, BB
  6. Sandro Fabian: 1-for-4, R, HR
  7. Heath Quinn: DNP
  8. Joan Gregorio: DNP
  9. Jordan Johnson: DNP
  10. Andrew Suarez: DNP
  11. Ty Blach: DNP
  12. Steven Okert: DNP
  13. Sam Coonrod: DNP
  14. Matt Krook: 3 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 4 BB, 4 K
  15. Aramis Garcia: DNP
  16. C.J. Hinojosa: DNP
  17. Reyes Moronta: DNP
  18. Rodolfo Martinez: DNP
  19. Austin Slater: 0-for-2, 2 BB
  20. Kelvin Beltre: 1-for-4, R, 2B
  21. Dan Slania: DNP
  22. Cory Taylor: 6 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 5 K
  23. Chris Stratton: DNP
  24. Chase Johnson: DNP
  25. Jalen Miller: 0-for-4, SO
  26. Melvin Adon: DNP
  27. Garrett Williams: DNP
  28. Dylan Davis: DN{
  29. Ryder Jones: 0-for-4, SO
  30. Hunter Cole: 2-for-3, R, 2B, BB

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