Utility prospect and all around beloved guy Taylor Motter, he of the golden tresses, has earned his first major league promotion this season, and Kevin Cash is throwing him right into the fire.
Tonight he'll be starting at short stop and batting second against veteran starter J.A. Happ: welcome to the Bigs, Mr. Motter!
Typically, the platoon option at short stop would be given over to Tim Beckham, who has played the 25th man this season after a strong audition last year, but the Rays have long looked at Motter as a potential utility whiz of the future (see, we are avoiding the "Next Ben Zobrist" label) and were pleased with his winter development.
Motter was not originally slated to play in winter ball, but a league had an every-day opening at short stop and the Rays offered the him the opportunity. By succeeding in that short off-season audition, he proved himself capable at what was not his primary position, and got enough reps for the Rays that they are ready to start him there at the major league level. Amazing.
Here are quotations to that effect, from Roger Mooney, as Kevin Cash discussed the promotion:
"He's going to play a big role," Cash said. "Knowing Taylor has the ability to play short, I think we're comfortable putting him anywhere on the field. I think he's going to bring a ton of energy like we saw in spring training. He's pumped, and I know the clubhouse is pumped to see him."
Roster wise, Motter is the infield depth replacement for Logan Forsythe's 15-Day DL assignment after a hairline fracture in his shoulder blade following a HBP last week. The Rays had previously added reliever Danny Farquhar from the minors, and optioned him again to add Motter.
Taylor Motter lit the world on fire last season in Triple-A, batting a .381 wOBA and 142 wRC+ to go with slick fielding at all positions.
After his winter league assignment, and a few months of working out with Logan Morrison, he had a strong Spring Training, one strong enough to inspire confidence despite his altogether missing bat this season in Durham (.244 wOBA, 49 wRC+, already 4 HR but far fewer walks). Clearly he needs to develop greater consistency across skills, including more consistent contact on offense. Hopefully the continuous improvement he has shown in previous years will translate to better results on offense moving forward.
Motter has the platoon advantage tonight, and will be hitting in the most important spot in the line up. He might even steal a bag or two. A bit old for a prospect, he's a good bench bet and could stick around for a while, offering speed, versatility, and maybe just a little pop.
#rays Morrison was waiting for Motter to reach bigs. Presented him with bright orange suit he ordered during spring for the occasion— Roger Mooney (@RogerMooney50) May 15, 2016