Name: Taylor Green
Position: Third base/Second base
Notable 2011 Stats: .336/.413/.583 with 36 2B, 1 3B, 22 HR, 72/55 K/BB in 120 G with Nashville (AAA);
10-for-37 with 3 2B, 0 BB, 6 K with Brewers
Why He’s This High: Like #97 prospect Yonder Alonso of the rival Reds, Taylor Green is a minor league veteran who looks ready to step in and provide solid production from day one of the 2012 season. In fact, Green’s Triple-A season is very similar to Alonso’s–Alonso walked 11.2% of the time and struck out 14.7%, while Green’s rates were 11.3% and 14.8%. The reason why Green’s line looks so much better overall is because he was playing in the PCL while Alonso was in the IL; naturally, Green’s isolated power and BABIP were higher.
Green slots ahead of Alonso because he provides far more defensive value; he’s a solid defensive third baseman who can also handle second. The big flaw I kept pointing to in Alonso’s profile was that he needed to hit at very good rates just to overcome his defensive limitations; Green, being a capable defender at tougher positions, has none of that “bat-only” stigma.
Clearly, he’s going to make contact, and he’s got a solid approach at the plate. While the PCL can certainly inflate power numbers, 59 extra-base hits in 120 games is nothing to sneeze at, and while Green may not be a 25-HR guy in the majors, he could be an effective gap hitter with enough power to turn on mistakes–you know, like the 2009-2010 Casey McGehee, except hitting lefthanded and with better defense.
Why He’s This Low: Green will be 25 years old before I complete publishing this list; if my memory serves me, he’s the oldest player on the list. At 5’11″ and 200 lbs., he’s physically maxed out and isn’t likely to make huge improvements once he settles into the majors; again, much like McGehee, who himself didn’t become a regular until age 26.
Green had previously been a moderately hot prospect several years ago–in fact, Cleveland could choose between him and Michael Brantley for who they wanted along with Matt LaPorta in the CC Sabathia trade of 2008–but his pre-2011 performance made him of little interest. In two seasons in Double-A in 2009 and 2010, he hit .258/.330/.356 and .260/.336/.438. His BABIP those two seasons was .276 and .277, which makes the spike to .360 in Triple-A look awfully park-induced. The good news is that his K/BB numbers were strong even in those seasons, so we can be reasonably certain that those skills will translate to the majors, even though his brief September audition saw Green fail to walk even once.
Green brings no speed to the bases, as he has a combined one steal in the past three seasons, so he isn’t going to help his team that way. Certainly, his glove will be an upgrade on the Braun/Gamel/McGehee trio that’s manned the hot corner in recent years, but to become an impact player, he’ll need to prove that his power spike in 2011 was more his doing than the PCL’s. As I stated above, I think he’s capable of at least being a .275/.350/.425 sort of hitter, which would make him plenty worth starting, but I can understand the skepticism over his breakout, as plenty of players have seen big offensive spikes in the PCL, only to come crashing back down to earth in the majors.
Conclusions: Like Alonso, Green is a relatively finished product. The constants in his profile are strong defense and good strike zone control, but it’s open for debate exactly what sort of average and slugging percentage he’ll be able to put up, depending on how much of his 2011 breakout you buy. However, it looks like he should, at the very least, outhit the bottom tier of MLB starting third basemen, and his defense should be at least average. And, of course, if the power comes with Green from Nashville to Milwaukee, he’ll be a fair bit above average. It’s highly unlikely he’ll come up with the power numbers to put himself in the top tier of third basemen, but, heck, Ryan Roberts was sixth in homers among 3Bs with 19 this season, so the days where a 3B has to hit 30 bombs to be relevant are gone. With a very high floor (a common theme among these first five prospects in the top 100, it seems), Green could become a quietly above-average major leaguer for the next decade.
Previous installments in the Seedlings To Stars 2012 Top 100 Prospects:
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