There are a lot of ups and downs for players throughout the year. For prospects, that can get blown way out of proportion sometimes. Woes can last all season, and sometimes the end result is the prospects stock falling enough to deal him.
Enter Taylor Trammell.
After 2018 saw him rise into the top 30 in the game on some prospect lists, 2019 was not as kind. He wound up getting dealt to San Diego. His struggles continued immediately following the trade, which is to be expected. But then things started to click at the end of the year, all culminating in a grand slam in the Texas League Championship game.
That brings us to why we are all here. Is that late season success sustainable? Not to give away the answer right at the beginning, but yes I believe that it is.
First, let’s just take a zoomed out look at his numbers courtesy of Fangraphs (get a membership if you don’t have one).
There’s some swing and miss in his game and that isn’t going anywhere. What’s concerning is that he went from being a .277 hitter to a sub-.240 hitter. He still stole 20 bases last year though. Trammell is an uber-athletic outfield prospect, so that speed will be key to his game. Suffice it to say, however, 2019 was not a great followup to a 2018 explosion.
His performance was steadily low until he hit .295 (18-for-61) over his last 16 games of the 2019 season. That includes a big hot streak to end the year, a baseball optimist’s dream.
Some of you might be underwhelmed and that’s okay. If you’ve made it this far, I can tell you that the numbers are a very small part of this. He did hit a hot streak, but it’s more about what happened to get him there after a season of woe. After the Padres traded for him they started tweaking his swing. So the end of the year is just one patch in a process, but it shows a small sample size of improvement.
There were clear and quick changes made to Trammell’s swing by the Padres. The wonderful Ray Butler of Prospects 365 was able to illustrate change back in early August.
Padres are already working on Taylor Trammell. Left is an at-bat during one of his last games pre-trade. Right is tonight.
Just hit his first home run as a Padre. 💣🔥 #FriarFaithful pic.twitter.com/a81WRXRodP
— Prospects 365 ⚾️ (@Prospects365) August 6, 2019
They’ve done work with his hands. Admittedly hard to see in the open face view, but don’t worry, there’ll be more looks. But you can still tell that his hands are off his body and he’s standing a tad taller too. Both are positive changes.
So fast forward to Spring Training and the changes continued to take. Friar Faithful Chronicle shared some video of Trammell from the broadcast angle and these changes are even more apparent.
Taylor Trammell with his second hit of the game, spraying a line drive to left field off LHP Ryan Buchter. pic.twitter.com/BUmc0emfKG
— Friar Faithful Chronicle (@TheFFChronicle) February 27, 2020
He’s upright and his hands are in a good position. In doing so, Trammell is able to keep all of his movements short. His hands don’t have to travel as far when he loads, and he can explode to the ball with quick hands.
To get a full scope of what’s different, we need to see where he came from. So I invite you back in time with me to when Trammell was in the Reds organization to see what his swing looked like. This is his last homer in the Reds system,
Next is his last homer of 2019, a grand slam in the Texas League Championship game. It’s not the best camera work.
The second camera angle isn’t great, but it gets the job done. From here it’s a game of spot the difference. Fear not though, I’ve stared at these swings tirelessly, so I’m here to help.
The first thing that jumps out to me is a more pronounced leg kick, which is a timing thing. Different people have different thoughts on this, but his foot is getting down so it’s all good.
Honestly, the biggest change here is the hands. I’ve already mentioned that they start farther away from his body, but the swings show the result of that. The swing is smoother and quicker.
The last part of this I haven’t mentioned is his weight. It’s easier to see in that Prospects 365 tweet than it is in the swings, but his weight appears to more on his back leg. His weight transfer is a lot better.
All of this won’t necessarily lead to less swing and miss. That is very important to realize. I’m not saying there’s no effect; the numbers might drop a touch. Overall, the goal here is for his contact to improve. If he can take better swings the results will be and have been better.
The Padres have proven to be good at development, and they seem to have known what steps to take with Trammell. Plus, Trammell seems to be taking to the adjustments well. If he continues to show these improvements, his athleticism is going to make him a very fun player to keep an eye on.
From where I sit, I’m happy to say that Taylor Trammell’s stock is on the rise.
Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)
Good read, but you left out the most interesting part of Taylor Trammell’s game: his ability to control the strike zone. He tracks pitches like no one I’ve seen since Jason Giambi. He simply seems to make the swing/no-swing decision earlier than everyone else. Add in his disciplined approach and you have a hitter that recognizes pitches early and doesn’t chase often. Hopefully he gets his swing mechanics sorted out, because he already has the athleticism and baseball-specific skills to be an impact hitter.