By Michael Keys
DUNEDIN, Fla. – Samad Taylor was stung at first when he was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays but now couldn’t be happier.
The second baseman was traded from the Cleveland Indians, along with LHP Thomas Pannone, at last year’s trade deadline in exchange for RHP Joe Smith. He remembers it clearly.
“You get called to the locker room (at the Indians facility) and you get told you got traded and it’s just like, ‘wow’,” said Taylor, standing in the sun at the Bobby Mattick Training Center. “It didn’t really hit me until I got to Vancouver and I was playing for a different organization.”
The Corona, Calif., native never worried about moving up to Canada, as long as he got to play the sport that he loves.
“It’s baseball, you’re going to do something you love to do regardless of where it’s at, I love the game of baseball,” said Taylor, the 13th ranked Jays' prospect according to MLB.com.
Blue Jays general manager, Ross Atkins, was part of the Cleveland Indians organization from 2001-2015 and has made it easier for Taylor to adjust to his new team.
“Once I got traded they let me know who was over here, that he was with the Indians. And when I was getting looked at by the Indians, Ross was over there. I’m in great hands, I love it over here,” he said.
Before being traded he played Short-Season class-A ball with the Mahoning Valley Scrappers where he slashed .300/.328/.467 in 120 at bats.
When he got traded, it only took him five games to get promoted to the Short-Season class-A Vancouver Canadians where he helped them win the Northwest League Championship.
“The whole team brings so much to the table, to the point where were going to do whatever it takes to win and when we did that, it was just the most amazing feeling, I still get the chills talking about it,” said Taylor.
Taylor made 68 plate appearances on the west coast where he had a .294 batting average with eight RBIs. He hopes to bring a championship back to the Canadians this year.
The nineteen-year-old began hitting from his left side when he was nine. In Cleveland, he began camp as a switch hitter but was told to hit from his right side. He has yet to use it at the pro level, but the Jays hope to get him his reps.
“It was always something I kept in my back pocket because I knew it would be effective one day, they (Blue Jays) found out I switch hit and this whole offseason I’ve been working on it.”