Taylor Motter was drafted by the Rays out of Coastal Carolina University in the 17th in the 2011. Last year he was exposed to the Rule 5 draft, but went unselected. After being named the Durham Bulls MVP in 2015, he was added to the 40 man roster this off season.
At every stop in professional baseball Motter has hit above average for the environment, showing progress at each level and steadily moving his way through the Rays system. He has shown good plate discipline, with good walk and strikeout rates.
Motter brings a combination of power and speed to the offensive side of the ball that separates him from the others in competition for the utility infielder role. The last two years at AA and AAA he has shown better power numbers and continuing to tap into that power could further help elevate him.
Motter has played all over the infield and outfield throughout his minor league career. This off season he was given the opportunity to gain more experience at short stop by playing in the Dominican Winter League.
"With my personality and the way I am, playing one position just gets boring," he said. "I'm going to come out, take ground balls at third, short, first, second, then centerfield, leftfield, rightfield and be happy about it. I don't have to go through the monotony of one position every day. I can do something different every day if I want to and it's awesome."*
Motter has embraced the enhanced opportunity that comes with being able to play all over the field.
What to Expect from Motter in 2016?
If Motter can meet these projections he could easily have an important role on the Rays. A player with this kind of offensive production who can also play anywhere on the field will have many opportunities.
Motter's addition to the 40 man roster this off-season was a big vote of confidence in his ability, and a positive step in his path to the major leagues. This spring he has survived the first cuts from major league camp and has seen a lot of play all over the field.
Being able to play anywhere on the diamond brings with it the by now all too familiar "new Ben Zobrist" label. Motter will be able to help the team, but bringing up that comparison is unfair to anybody.
Sent to start the season in Durham to continue honing his skills at short stop, Motter has started 4 for 17 at the plate (without any extra base hits) and one walk. Five games in, he has received every start at shortstop which is a good sign on a team that has Daniel Robertson and Nick Franklin.
Motter may very well be frist in line for the call up should somebody be injured or struggle for the Rays. If Motter is able to continue to hit he could even force his way onto the major league roster this summer.