Prospect Spotlight: Taylor Widener
The 2016 season was the year of the prospects for the Yankees as they have soared from the middle of the pack to the top spot in most farm system lists. Most of the newly acquired prospects highlighted were either acquired in blockbuster trades (Gleyber Torres, Clint Frazier, Dillon Tate) or high in the draft (Blake Rutherford, Nick Solak). One overlooked prospect that is actually making a name for himself is right handed pitcher Taylor Widener. Widener, who turned 22 on October 24, was selected by the Yankees in the 12th round of this year’s draft out of the University of South Carolina and dominated in the Yankees lower minor league levels.
Photo courtesy of Pinstriped Prospects
Widener started off his career with the Staten Island Yankees and completely dominated the competition. In 15.1 innings pitched, Widener allowed no runs on two hits, walked four and struck out 25 in six games and one start. He also converted a save while going 2-0 in the process. Widener was then bumped up to the Charleston Riverdogs and was equally impressive. Across 23 innings with Charleston, Widener allowed two runs (two solo home runs) on 15 hits, walked three and struck out 34 across seven games and one start. He also picked up a win and converted three saves in four chances while having a 0.78 ERA. Overall Widener was 3-0 with a 0.47 ERA, 59 strikeouts and four saves across 13 games and one start.
The Yankees are pretty familiar with players from the University of South Carolina as they drafted teammate Dominic Thompson-Williams in the fifth round and the Yankees number 19 prospect Jordan Montgomery was also drafted from there in 2014. Other notable South Carolina alumni include Sam Dyson, Brian Roberts, Steve Pearce, Justin Smoak, Whit Merrifield, and Jackie Bradley Jr. The Yankees haven’t had much success with twelfth round picks and haven’t had one reach the majors since Danny Burawa in 2015, but Widener has a chance to change that.
While Widener was used as both a starter and a reliever in college, his best track to the Major Leagues might be coming out of the bullpen. Widener is easy to overlook as minor league relievers don’t get a lot of coverage, but this is one of those pitchers who could quickly and quietly climb up the minor leagues and appear in pinstripes before we know it.
Article by: Julian Bussells
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