When LA Angels Taylor Ward was drafted out of Fresno State University in the first round of the 2015 amateur draft he was supposed to be the catcher of the future.
Four years later Taylor Ward is now a third baseman for the LA Angels having been switched positions in the beginning of 2018 in hopes that his hitting would blossom because Ward could devote more time to it since he didn’t have to worry about helping the pitchers so much.
The strategy worked in 2018 as Ward had his best year in the minors hitting .349 with 14 homers and 60 RBIs with a 18 stolen bases and an OPS of .977. Ward earned his first call-up to the majors as the Angels purchased his contract in August of 2018.
Ward got to play in 40 games for the Angels hitting six homers and driving in 15 runs, but his less than desirable .178 batting average. This season Taylor Ward did not make the Angels roster out of Spring Training and spent most of the season in Triple-A Salt Lake City only getting called up for a few games when the Angels could add an extra player to their roster for Interleague games at a National League park. He went 1 for 10 in the limited action he received.
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However, Ward again had a great season in Triple-A hitting .306 with 27 homers and driving in 71 runs with an OPS of 1.011. The Angels had Ward not only play third base, but first base, and left field as well in hopes of increasing Ward’s versatility so that they could maybe find a space for him in the line-up. This is a strategy the Angels have used with multiple players such as David Fletcher, and Matt Thaiss.
While Ward was frustrated for his lack of major league opportunities, he understood the reasons behind it.
“It’s been a roller coaster year. Getting called up then being sent back down. Every time I was here I was trying to take something away from it that I could learn,” Ward said. “It was tough of course, but I realize why I wasn’t being called up (this year). I know I need to work on my defense, and there are holes in my game that kept me from getting up call for longer. I understand that and I understood why some guys moved in front of me because of it.”
Despite the up and down year Ward was happy that he was able have another productive year at the plate in the minors.
“I had 27 home runs at Salt Lake and I want to hit three home runs this month so I could reach 30 homers. That is a goal of mine,” Ward said.
Wednesday night Ward hit his first home run of the season for the Angels off of the A’s Frankie Montas. Ward ended up the game two for three and raised his season average from .132 to .182 (6 for 33). Ward just wants to keep improving and learning for the rest of the season.
“I just want to get in as many at-bats as I can the rest of the season,” Ward said. “In the offseason I want to work on my swing. I take a lot of pride in that. I also want to work to get better on defense wherever the Angels want me to play next season.”
Taylor Ward has a great work ethic and he also is one of those type of players who will do whatever it takes to get better and you will never hear him complain about his situation when things don’t go his way. Ward’s attitude is a breath of fresh air compared to some athletes such as Antonio Brown who want to shift the blame to anyone else but the ultimate problem: himself.
When I asked Ward about his prospects for making the Opening Day roster next season with the Angels having so much depth at third base and first base he just shrugged and said.
“It is added pressure (the logjam in the infield for next season). You just got to continue to do what you do and hope for the best,” Ward said. “You know that you are playing to show yourself for 29 other clubs. (Alluding to the chance that he might be cut and could end up on another team).”
In my opinion just like fellow Halo Hangout writer Vincent Page believe that if Taylor Ward was given an extended look at third base that the Angels could be pleasantly surprised with the results. It is hard to get acclimated to the major leagues when you are only a part-time player. I say given him a chance to be in the line-up on a regular basis and see what the kid can do. If he does well you got yourself another key piece, but if not you let him and try to catch on elsewhere. I myself am hoping for the first scenario rather than the second one.
We will see what happens come Spring Training. Things will get interesting once the battles for the roster spots begin in February. Stay Tuned.