Former LA Angels 1st Round Pick Taylor Ward Makes It to the Show
By David Rice
It has been a long road for 2015 LA Angels first round draft pick Taylor Ward, but he has finally reached the top of the mountain. Ward will be called up from Triple-A Salt Lake City Tuesday and join the Angels in San Diego.
When Taylor Ward was drafted with the 26th pick of the first round of the 2015 Draft by the LA Angels he was known as a great defensive catcher coming out of Fresno State. However, Ward scuffled at the plate from 2015-2017 in the Angels minor league system making it only as high as Double-A Mobile.
At the beginning of the 2018 season the Angels brass decided that Ward would be much better off playing third base which they were hoping would help Ward focus more on his hitting. The move has paid instant dividends as Ward has had the best season of his minor league career hitting .349 with 14 homers and driving in 60 runs. In addition Ward’s on-base-percentage is a sparkling .446 and he has also stolen 18 bases too.
Ward was promoted from Double-A to Triple-A in late May and he continued his hot hitting. He has also become a decent fielder at third base in a short time with a .931 fielding percentage making 12 errors in 175 total chances.
Ward will be called up before Tuesday’s game with the San Diego Padres and knowing Mike Scioscia might start right away. He will be used exclusively at third base and possibly as a DH as well.
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When I talked to Ward late last season when he was still in Single-A Inland Empire I asked him about making it to the majors, he said, “I know what I’ve got to do, which is hit. If I do that I’ll be out of here and will get moved up,” Ward said. “I just have to keep pushing until that happens (making it to the majors) When I do make it to the majors I will be really happy to be there as it is a lifelong dream for me.”
Well Taylor, your dream has become a reality and it couldn’t happen to a nicer guy. In the two years I was able to watch Taylor Ward play for the 66’ers you couldn’t have asked for a better young man. Ward was always gracious when I asked him for an interview which was quite a few times because he was the catcher who was used to catch almost every Angel pitcher who was in the Inland Empire rehabbing from an injury. Ward would always greet me with a smile and ask me how he was doing, even if he had a tough night at the plate.
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I remember one particular night when the 66’ers were in Rancho Cucamonga and I had covered another Angel pitcher’s rehab start. We had just finished our interview along the first base line and he said to me with the patented Ward smile, “You think there is a back way out of here, come on and follow me,” I proceeded to follow Ward hopping over a small fence and through the bullpen area which allowed me to get to my car much quicker and he was able to get his shortcut to the team bus.
I am looking forward to covering Ward soon when the Angels return to Anaheim in 10 days as I’m sure his smile will be as big as ever matching the heart and perseverance Ward has shown in reaching the top of the mountain. Good Luck Taylor I’ll be rooting for you. You have proven that nice guys don’t always have to finish last.