In this edition of ESNY’s New York Yankees prospect profile, we take a look at right-handed pitcher Taylor Widener.
With their pick in the twelfth round of the 2016 MLB Draft, the New York Yankees selected right-handed pitcher Taylor Widener out of the University of South Carolina.
The 22-year old’s arsenal includes that of a fastball, slider and changeup. His fastball sits around 93 to 97 m.p.h., which is up a few ticks from his college days where it only sat in the low 90’s.
Widener’s second best pitch is his slider, which sits in the mid 80’s and has some devastating break to it at times. It has the ability to be his knockout pitch, but it lacks consistency.
The final pitch of the right-hander’s tool belt is his changeup, which could still be defined as a work in progress. The Yankees had him focus on improving this pitch the most due to their aspirations of making him a starter.
Take a look at what scouts have to say about the rest of his skills:
Scouting grades via MLB Pipeline: Fastball: 60 / Slider: 55 / Changeup: 45 / Control: 50 / Overall: 45
It should be noted that Widener has average or above average grades in all of his categories other than his changeup. If he is able to further develop this pitch, he could be on to big things.
His frame currently sits at exactly six feet while weighing 195 pounds, a solid frame for a pitcher who is able to throw a fastball in the high 90’s.
Widener made his professional debut shortly after being drafted in 2016 where he was able to make an immediate mark. In 13 games split between the Staten Island Yankees and Charleston RiverDogs, the right-hander went 3-0 with a 0.47 ERA and a 13.9 K/9.
Most of these statistics came from Widener pitching out of the bullpen considering he only made two starts during the 2016 season.
As 2017 arrived, the New York Yankees decided they wanted to try and convert Widener to a full-time starting pitcher since they feel he has all the tools necessary to do so.
So far with two starts with the Tampa Yankees in 2017, Widener has surrendered six earned runs in just under 10 innings pitched. He is struggling, but it is nothing to worry about just yet.
According to MLB Pipeline, he will most likely not arrive in the Bronx until 2019, however, it is still unsure if he would be a starter or a reliever. He has the potential to succeed as both, it will just come down to what role he performs better in.