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Seattle Mariners

Pleskoff Scouting Report | Taylor Motter

ANAHEIM, CA - APRIL 09: Seattle Mariners Infield Taylor Motter (21) takes the field during a MLB game between the Los Angeles Angels and Seattle Mariners on April 9, 2017 at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, CA. The Angels defeated the Mariners 10-9. (Photo by Nick Wosika/Icon Sportswire)
(Photo by Nick Wosika/Icon Sportswire)
  • TEAM: Seattle Mariners
  • AGE: 27
  • POSITIONS: OF/INF
  • BATS: Right
  • THROWS: Right
  • HEIGHT: 6-foot-1
  • WEIGHT: 195 lbs.
  • ACQUIRED: The Tampa Bay Rays selected Motter in the 17th round of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft. He had attended Coastal Carolina University in Conway, South Carolina. In November 2016, the Rays traded Motter and Richie Shaffer to the Seattle Mariners for first baseman Dalton Kelly, right-handed pitcher Andrew Kittredge and right-handed pitcher Dylan Thompson.

*****

STRENGTHS

Motter is the type of player that may not get noticed. He’s the type of guy that won’t show up in the box score with outstanding statistics. He doesn’t have one overwhelming tool, although his defense is well above average. But he can play.

Motter is a guy that can be deployed at any one of a number of positions by a major-league club. Since last year while playing for Tampa Bay, Motter has played every position with the exception of catcher. He even pitched once, throwing one-third of an inning and yielding a hit against the Detroit Tigers on July 1, 2016.
That type of versatility may save the Mariners a position on their 40-man and 25-man rosters and allows for the manager to be creative in his player movements during the game.

Motter has a .272 minor-league career batting average. He does have some power in his bat, having hit 43 doubles while playing at Triple-A Durham in 2015. His barrel-of-the-bat approach can also result in double-digit home runs. In his last three years he has hit 16 (Double-A Montgomery) 14 (Triple-A Durham) and 13 back at Durham last year.

He makes good contact and can be trusted to put the ball in play.

The value regarding Motter remains his versatility. He has the speed and the defensive prowess to move around the diamond wherever needed. He’s a guy that can battle pitchers and then go out and make plays on defense. He has an average arm, but perhaps without the depth and arm strength to fit in right field or shortstop full-time.

WEAKNESSES

A good athlete, Motter has been criticized for playing with less enthusiasm than some feel is necessary if he wants to be a starting player. He’s a bit flashy, but he is far from intense. As I evaluate him, I think he is more a steady and confident player that makes things look a bit easy. Some may confuse that for indifference or cockiness.

Third base and shortstop were his initial defensive positions after the draft. However, he doesn’t have the type of range or arm strength to play shortstop every day. He may be most comfortable as a third baseman, first baseman or left fielder.

ANAHEIM, CA - APRIL 09: Seattle Mariners Infield Taylor Motter (21)makes a sliding catch during a MLB game between the Los Angeles Angels and Seattle Mariners on April 9, 2017 at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, CA. The Angels defeated the Mariners 10-9. (Photo by Nick Wosika/Icon Sportswire)

(Photo by Nick Wosika/Icon Sportswire)

NARRATIVE

As a freshman at Coastal Carolina, Motter was named a Louisville Slugger and Ping Baseball Freshman All-America. He hit .286 with 18 doubles.

He played three seasons and appeared in 187 games in college. He hit .303 with 18 home runs and 110 RBIs in his collegiate career. He is the type of player that is happy to do the little things well. He can beat the opposition with a timely hit, a bunt, a stolen base or even a home run.

While still at Durham he got used to letting the ball travel a bit further before swinging. That has reduced him from “jumping” at the ball and being too anxious as a hitter.

Motter has a history of some hamstring issues that caused some missed playing time from his days at Coastal Carolina to a bit into his professional career. He has since learned how to handle making the best of his athletic abilities and keeping himself in good playing condition.

Motter made his major-league debut with Tampa Bay in 2016. He hit only .188 in 93 plate appearances covering 34 games. He struck out 19 times, which was unlike his history in the minors.

This season, he is playing with the Mariners as part of the major-league club. Entering Friday’s action, he has a line of .282/.349/.718 — that slugging percentage is tops in the American League, helped by his 4 home runs and 5 doubles.

THE FUTURE FOR MOTTER

With his long hair flowing out of his batting helmet, Motter can be a very important component of the Mariners lineup. He can play anywhere and he can play well. Some feel he has the type of versatility of the Cubs’ Ben Zobrist , the Astros’ Marwin Gonzalez or the Indians’ Jose Ramirez. Their teams use those players where they are needed and when they are needed. Each responds as if the position of the day is their full-time home. That’s what Motter brings to Seattle.

He probably still considers himself a shortstop. However, while he can fill-in upon occasion, his weaknesses at the shortstop position could be exposed over time.

I can easily see Motter taking over a position when a player goes into a slump or has to be replaced due to injury. He can take over for a week to ten days effectively. After that stretch of time he may be needed elsewhere on the field. That’s just the type of important value he has to a team.

His super-utility role with Seattle seems to be very safe.

CONCLUSIONS

Motter is a good athlete with a bit of a flashy nature. While he doesn’t have any major tool to use to overwhelm the opposition, he does have the type of skills that contribute to the club. He can play all over the diamond defensively and he can hit well enough to stay on the team’s 25-man roster.

Once a shortstop, Motter may best suited to play third base, left field or first base. His range is adequate, but likely not good enough to play every day at shortstop.

Every team likes to have reliable guys that can play multiple positions and play them well. That’s Motter.

SCOUTING PHRASE FOR MOTTER: A versatile and athletic player that can be used all over the diamond.

SCOUTING GRADE FOR MOTTER: 45 – A quality super-utility player

Follow me on twitter @BerniePleskoff

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