Friday, February 21, 2014

Montz and Taylor positionally defined

Through the remaining storylines emanating from Phoenix Municipal and Papago over the previous few days, it has been announced that Michael Taylor shall be restrained specifically to outfield duties this 2014 and Luke Montz will partake in a permanent transition to 1B as opposed to his primary catching position due to his shoulder hindrance. Both have significant impacts upon the Athletics MiLB depth chart and ramifications for playing distribution in Sacramento, as Taylor shall join Montz as an exiled former 40 man roster member should be not be slotted immediately in Oakland thanks to his lack of options. Still, both could theoretically play their way back to the east bay, as Montz began as a NRI the previous spring prior to receiving 25 man entry in May. Should Taylor once more be sectioned off to the Rivercats, it'll take a eyeopening performance for the Stanford alumni and historical A's enigma to finally acquire an opportunity with the ballclub and consequently leave Shane Peterson as the only reserve 40 man outfielder. The two amassed a cumulative 55 PAs during the previous season and had an extraordinarily limited role upon the squad, but should injuries permit, these two will undeniably have a pivotal influence within the A's organization. Assuming Taylor makes it through waivers should no injuries occur to Crisp, Cespedes, Reddick or Gentry before April, these two will likely serve as the attractive non-roster additions to consider in the midst of 2014.

Luke Montz, released from the organization following a debilitating and season ending injury, was hoisted back onto the Athletics after re-signing to another MiLB contract in October and becoming one of the first minor league signees of the offseason for the second consecutive year. Montz participated in only three contests at 1B during the 2013 campaign, one with Oakland following a pinch hitting appearance and two additional starts in Sacramento, so the sturdy 6'1", 235 pounder didn't receive an excessive amount of opportunities outside of his C/DH rotation which compromised 31 of his 33 Rivercat appearances, despite not catching at all while suited up with the Athletics. It was an abruptly brief stint for Montz, who only managed to accumulate 175 plate appearance while housed within the A's organization and unfortunately did not provide a sufficient statistical sample size. However, Montz figures to service as the ideal competition to Nate Freiman as a LHP mashing power bat, with Montz having obliterated lefties throughout his minor league tenure. While within Miami's organization, he slashed out to .351/.473/.667 in an approximate 135 PAs for Jacksonville and .248/.351/.608 in 145 PAs for New Orleans prior to his minute 37 PAs against southpaws with Sacramento last season, in which he went 8-30 with 3 2Bs, 2 HR and a 7:9 BB/K. Montz additionally has more sound discipline within a platoon matchup, with a 53:61 BB/K over his previous three MiLB campaigns, so it seems the most logical route towards the majors for the 30 year old former Expos draftee. His overall Sacramento result was indicative of his thunderous bat, finishing top 10 throughout the PCL in ISO with a .295 mark despite the truncated season and a cumulative .246/.352/.541 slash (131 wRC+, .387 wOBA, 31.0% K%) that should have him encompassing the kitten's cleanup duties. With Freiman also seemingly headed for Sacramento at this instant, it ought to be a highly contested duel between the two for opportunities, with this shift additionally possibly forcing Barton to shift to 3B. As for Aliotti's playing time... I'm as stumped as you are. 

Taylor has participated in Oakland for three straight seasons, despite amassing only 81 plate appearances with extremely limited chances that have prevented A's faithful from genuinely witnessing him for an extended period. Albeit, the results within a minuscule sample haven't been particularly exquisite, with a cumulative -1.1 fWAR and a .135/.210/.189 slash in stark contrast to his consistently exemplary annual Sacramento crusades, most recently manning a .281/.360/.474, .370 wOBA, 120 wRC+, .193 ISO 2013 while pitted against AAA competition. The corner outfielder has 1947 career plate appearances within Sacramento since arriving in Oakland, and holds the distinguished yet saddening honor as the Rivercats' all-time runs leader. To break from the central Californian prison, it was speculated Taylor would experiment with opportunities at 1B and received contests the previous spring in the infield. However, through his 112 MiLB bouts, Taylor remained an exclusive outfielder and the notion of him playing 1B was left as a hypothetical transition as opposed to the organization exploring it extensively. With well established reverse splits, it would be difficult to capitalize upon a platoon position for Taylor regardless, and his fate purely hinges upon spring injuries to have his fate with the A's result in something other than a waiver claim or release. He'll be forced to contend with Jake Goebbert and Billy Burns for non-roster outfield supremacy, but still could construct a campaign that demonstrates to Oakland that he deserves one more attempt to prove his worth. Should he not though, this is all but certainly the final season in green and gold for Michael Taylor. 

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