Zoning in on Chris Taylor
Zoning in on the 2016 Mariners is a daily series in which we’ll examine one player every day, 30 total, in the lead-up to Opening Day. We’ll explain their role on the field, what they’re like off of it and provide highlights and photos. On deck tomorrow: Boog Powell.
After a look yesterday at a young shortstop, up today is another: it’s Chris Taylor, the 25-year-old who’s played with the Mariners in parts of the past two seasons.
For the second year in a row, Taylor comes to Spring Training looking a crack at the Opening Day roster, this time competing for the utility infielder spot with, among others, Luis Sardinas. Last year, he was off to a very solid start before a stray pitch led to a broken bone in his wrist, derailing his spring.
Taylor spent most of the last two years with the Tacoma Rainiers, where he was one of the better offensive shortstops in the Pacific Coast League over that span—with an OPS over .800 in each campaign.
After success as a hitter in Tacoma, and now it’s about translating that to the Majors.
But going back further, Taylor grew up in Virginia Beach, Virginia, where he starred at Cox High School.
He went on to play at college ball at the University of Virginia, where he was teammates with Mariners pitcher Danny Hultzen. In one of the biggest games of each of their college careers, Taylor led off and played shortstop while Hultzen started at designated hitter—yes, DH.
In that game, against the UC Irvine Anteaters with a trip to the College World Series on the line, Hultzen led off the bottom of the ninth and struck out before Taylor eventually came up with the bases loaded and the Cavaliers trailing 2-1.
Off the Field
They say it takes good hands to play shortstop. Chris Taylor has another hobby where those might come in handy.
The story behind it is funny. “I was a part of a Shakespeare festival in middle school,” he said, “in order to get out of class I had to learn how to juggle.”
Speaking of middle school, Chris Taylor was an impressive wrestler during his time at Great Neck Middle School there in Virginia Beach. He won a city wrestling title at 91 pounds as a seventh-grader and was the runner-up at 98 pounds in eighth grade.
Wrestling is big in the Taylor family as both his father and grandfather wrestled at Virginia Tech. But after middle school, Taylor stopped wrestling to instead focus on baseball.