The best thing you can say about Taylor Lindsey's professional baseball career is that he had an outstanding 2013. Of course, one might read into that and think his 2014 has been sub par. They would be right. Last year in AA Lindsey slugged 17 HRs for the Arkansas Travelers. He had shown signs of that type of power before, but this was AA and over 500 at bats. It made him the top Angels prospect on most lists (the big fish in a small pond award) and even got him ranked as a top 100 prospect by Baseball America (#93). This year Lindsey got promoted to AAA, the hitters league of the PCL, and has not maintained that success. He has still been able to slug the ball hitting doubles and HRs, but many of his singles are gone so his batting average, OBP and SLG have suffered. However, he is not striking out more than he did before and he is actually drawing more walks. Perhaps he is only an adjustment away from a better looking triple slash line.
Since Lindsey was on all the Angels' top prospect lists there are plenty of prospect ranking sites to quite about him. Let us start with Baseball Prospectus who outlined his strengths and weaknesses:
Strengths: The hit tool could be plus; shows above-average bat speed; quick hands; can square velocity; can track off-speed; good gap pop; has athleticism to play a passable second base.
Weaknesses: Wide-base setup and leg movement can effect timing and balance; power potential is fringe-average at best; below-average run; below-average range; hands in the field are fringy; arm is average but not a weapon; has to hit.
One of the phrases some will use with Lindsey is that he "plays up his tools". He lacks a certain amount of athleticism that scouts would like to see in a player, but he works hard to make up for it with smarts and effort. David Eckstein was another player that played up his tools, but where Eckstein had baserunning savvy, Lindsey has his power. Chris Denorfia is another player that could be described that way and maybe Lindsey can be the second base version of Denorfia.
In the weaknesses section above the word fringy is used. ESPN's Keith Law also used that word when giving a brief description of Lindsey:
Taylor Lindsey is a natural hitter with a good swing, but he's a fringy defender at second, and he's barely using his lower half right now at the plate.
Another word that comes up a lot is average, such as when Fangraphs' Marc Hulet described Lindsey's prospects:
The Scouting Report: An offensive-minded second baseman, Lindsey saw his home run total jump from nine in both 2011 and 2012 to 17 last year in the Texas League. The Arizona native tweaked his approach at the plate to sacrifice some contact for the increased home run pop. Although he didn’t hit for as high of an average, his on-base percentage improved because he became more patient. He’ll likely never be anything special at the keystone but he should be an average defender.
The Career Outlook: Lindsey should be a slightly-above-average second baseman at the plate and average-ish on defence.
The talk about Lindsey turning to more power was a common theme Minorleageball.com's John Sickels also references it:
Appears to be emphasizing power over batting average, but he also drew more walks in ’13 and his overall rate of production was improved compared to 2012. Still looks like an Adam Kennedy/Todd Walker type second baseman, can be a regular but not a star.
Expect more on Lindsey from John Sickels in the coming days as he usually writes up reports for prospects involved in trades.
One thing that you might notice when you read these reports is that the descriptions do not read like a top prospect. As I mentioned earlier, he was a big fish in a small pond in the Angels farm system. They do not have the kind of prospects (like the Padres' Wisler, Hedges, Renfroe, Fried or even Liriano) that would normally top a system. He is just the best of what they do have due to his standout 2013 and his proximity to the major leagues.
That proximity to the majors puts him on the Padres' radar for 2015. The way he has hit this year points to him needing some more time in AAA to make adjustments and if things go well he can make a 2015 debut. Actually, even if they do not go perfect he should still debut next season in order to either get a taste of the majors, become an injury replacement or to challenge him. That will not be true of the other prospects in the deal, so Lindsey should stay fresher in your minds than the others. However, even if his debut is not in 2015, he will still just be 23 years old when that season finishes and younger than Jedd Gyorko was when he made his major league debut.
One last thing, make sure to use that "E" when typing Lindsey's name. The more common spelling has an "A".