We sat down with dozens of prospects at the Louisville Slugger Prospect Pad, held annually at the MLB Futures Game. Here’s our interview with Taylor Trammell, reportedly a key component in Tuesday night’s three-team deal involving the Indians, Reds and Padres centered around Trevor Bauer and Yasiel Puig.
JJ COOPER: Hey everyone. We’re here at the Baseball America Prospect Pad. Excited to be joined by Reds Outfielder Taylor Trammell. Taylor, welcome back! This is a different city but, you know, two Futures games in a row.
TAYLOR TRAMMELL: Yes.
JJ COOPER: Last year, I would imagine it was a pretty fun experience.
TAYLOR TRAMMELL: It was awesome. I tell people this all the time, it was one of the best experiences of my life. I look back at that time, and it was just so fun. The amount of time I spent with, you know, guys that are in the big leagues now, guys that I’m playing against now, it’s just a great experience. I mean, just the whole atmosphere of Washington, and now to be here in Cleveland. It’s unbelievable.
JJ COOPER: What did it mean… I mean, again there’s a lot of great players in that event. But there’s one MVP of the game. When you get to, you know, you get home you stop and go, Hey, I was Futures Game MVP, what does that mean, you know, in the long term?
TAYLOR TRAMMELL: It just means I had as much fun as I could have had. And I think that’s when I’m playing my best – I’m having fun, I’m loose, I’m not worried about anything. And I think that was just a time for me to just relax and just sit back and just say Wow, I had really good game that game. And so, it was awesome.
JJ COOPER: National TV… I imagine your phone blew up afterwards.
TAYLOR TRAMMELL: It did.
JJ COOPER: A lot of texts.
TAYLOR TRAMMELL: It did. A lot of texts. A lot of social media stuff. You know, I would scroll down on Twitter sometimes and I would see, like, a comedy thing and it’ll be me, you know, just kind of doing my thing and I’m like, this is awkward.
JJ COOPER: So, what about this season. How have you felt about your first half? How you feel like….What’s going well? What are the things that you’re trying to work on right now?
TAYLOR TRAMMELL: You know, I’m seeing the ball well. I think that’s the biggest thing for me right now. I’m seeing the ball well. Mechanically, I think there’s some things that need to change. You know, I haven’t had the first half that I wanted. You know, hitters go through ups and downs in their career and I’m going through… I was in a downward action and, you know, I didn’t really stress or think too much on it. I know I am a hitter. I don’t like to think too much. I don’t like to get into, you know, myself as much as some people might. But I think that…
JJ COOPER: You don’t want to overanalyze it.
TAYLOR TRAMMELL: Exactly. And the first half, like I said, it wasn’t what I wanted but I’m seeing the ball and that just shows me, you know, I’m getting on base, I’m seeing the ball… something, while I’m hitting, has to change. And that’s one thing I’ve kind of just honed in on, talked to my hitting coach with, and we’re hitting the ground running right now.
JJ COOPER: Do you think… like you said you’re a hitter.
TAYLOR TRAMMELL: Yes.
JJ COOPER: We also saw, in the Futures Game last year, you can drive the ball, but when you’re going well, with you is it more of that, I’m going to hit the ball and that will… I’ll drive the ball because I’m making solid contact, not I’m looking to drive. Or, are you when you’re going well is it getting into ambush counts, where he’s like no, no, no. I can really feast on this?
TAYLOR TRAMMELL: The latter, when I’m in deeper counts, you know say 2-0, 3-0, 3-1. Those are the at-bats I feel like I’m better in, as any hitter would. But when I get to those counts… because I pride myself on seeing the ball well, getting on base for guys like Ibandel Isabel, Tyler Stevenson, you know guys that are going to drive me in.
JJ COOPER: Isabel can hit it about 700 feet I think.
TAYLOR TRAMMELL: I kid you not he could. But I pride myself on getting on base with those guys and when I’m getting into those counts, it’s going to make the… I think that makes the pitcher a little bit nervous. If I’m on base or… and then Tyler Stevenson’s up to bat or Jose Siri up to bat or like Ibandel Isabel is up to bat, or Mitch Nay. You know, I’m looking at that, I’m like I can cause havoc on the basepaths and be smart with it, but at the same time these guys are gonna drive me in regardless. And so that’s what I feel is my game right now, is you know, getting on base and driving in runs as well and being able to be a guy who can do it all.
JJ COOPER: Along those lines, baseball is a game of adjustments. So, over your career what’s probably the biggest mechanical adjustment or approaching… you know offensively or defensively, what’s been the biggest adjustment you’ve made, at some point in your career, do you think?
TAYLOR TRAMMELL: Getting on fastballs. I know, earlier on in my career, I was hesitant on pulling triggers. Thinking too much in my at-bats. Not expecting fastballs, not being aggressive. I was passive. I wouldn’t say anything mechanical.
JJ COOPER: It’s just a process, It was a thought process.
TAYLOR TRAMMELL: A thought process. And being in a hitter’s count… Sorry about that.
JJ COOPER: That’s alright.
TAYLOR TRAMMELL: Being in a hitter’s count, driving balls, and I think that’s what I think is my biggest adjustment is getting on fastballs and making sure that I get my pitch, and I don’t miss my pitch, driving my pitch.
JJ COOPER: What made you, you know, what made you kind of realize OK, I’ve got to make an approach adjustment here? Like was it were you getting beat by fastballs or what was happening?
TAYLOR TRAMMELL: Yes, I was. I was getting beat by fastballs and then I think the saying is, you’re late on fastballs and early on off-speed.
JJ COOPER: You were in that in-between world that’s terrible.
TAYLOR TRAMMELL: Yes. And so now, you know, I’m on fastballs. I feel good with fastballs.
JJ COOPER: Does that also mean that you’re on now on time with, you know, off-speeds too?
TAYLOR TRAMMELL: I am now — I’m seeing off-speed pitches as well because I’m expecting fastball, expecting the fastball. And I think, coming from high school, not being, you know, not seeing as much pitching as I thought I had, you know it took me time to adjust to actually getting to those counts, seeing those pitches consistently and learning how to hit those pitches. Because I feel like if you hit a… hitting a fastball is different than hitting a curve ball.
JJ COOPER: Right.
TAYLOR TRAMMELL: That’s how I feel. And that’s just one of the adjustments I’ve had to make.
JJ COOPER: Did you kind of come to that yourself or did you have guys help you? Was there a coach or anyone who was helping you like kind of come to that realization?
TAYLOR TRAMMELL: Yes. You know, I’ve had I’ve worked with hitting coach Milt Thompson, hitting coordinator for the Reds. Milt Thompson, Alex Pelaez, Daryle Ward, and Eric Davis and Barry Larkin. I’ve worked with those guys.
JJ COOPER: Pretty good hitters that you’ve worked with.
TAYLOR TRAMMELL: Yes, I have. And so those guys they’ve been they’ve been on me, they have high expectations out of me. And you know I’m just really to go. Absolutely.
JJ COOPER: So what I want to ask with is this, You know you’ve gone, you’ve climbed the ladder.
TAYLOR TRAMMELL: Yes.
JJ COOPER: What are the differences you see? Like a Double-A pitcher, how is that guy different than the guys you’re seeing back, let’s say when you were in Dayton and Low-A.
TAYLOR TRAMMELL: Yes, I see guys, they have a plan. They’re not up there just throwing pitches. They’re not just… they actually remember at-bats, they actually study film. I’ve noticed that especially with the guys in our locker room. They’re studying film. They’re picking out…
JJ COOPER: They’re figuring out what you know…
TAYLOR TRAMMELL: Sometimes they know more about you than you know about yourself.
JJ COOPER: And they’re going to show you what to know about yourself.
TAYLOR TRAMMELL: Exactly and that’s one thing I’ve had to, in this first half I’ve had to look back and say this team pitches this way, not even this team, this pitcher pitches this way, with me. This guy pitches differently to me with runners in scoring position. Differently when runners aren’t in scoring position or not even on base. That’s one thing I’ve had to just pretty much just understand about myself who I am as a hitter, how guys are gonna attack me and how I’m going to approach the at-bat. And those three things I think is gonna be… is pretty much the biggest…
JJ COOPER: You’re prepping for the big leagues because there that’s gonna be you know at an insane level of hey, this is exactly what Taylor does in these situations.
TAYLOR TRAMMELL: Yes.
JJ COOPER: And this is how we want to attack him.
TAYLOR TRAMMELL: Yes, sir. And then those pitchers as well, and going back to your question, I kind of went off on a tangent.
JJ COOPER: No, that’s alright.
TAYLOR TRAMMELL: Those pitchers, they have a plan they stick to the plan. It’s not, we’re going to deviate. We’re not going to go away from it. They stick to that plan. And that’s one thing I’ve noticed.
JJ COOPER: And they also I imagine can locate a little better to stay with that plan.
TAYLOR TRAMMELL: Absolutely. There’s a lot more movement. There’s a lot more command with their pitches. You know guys will go to your bats and they’ll throw three straight change ups in a row. You know if you swing…
JJ COOPER: And you’re thinking on the second or the first time and you’re thinking there’s no way he’s gonna throw me another one.
TAYLOR TRAMMELL: Exactly. And so that’s one thing you got to look at you like these guys are going to stick to their plans if they have a plan. You know some guys if they, they’re going to… sorry. You’re going to look at their previous at-bats. You’re going to look at their previous hitters. Guys are off-speed early, fastballs early, getting ahead and counts early. That’s one thing I’ve learned and I’ve noticed about Double-A and higher up guys are starting to do.
JJ COOPER: Along those lines. Is there a guy that stands out who’s the toughest guy you’ve had to face this year?
TAYLOR TRAMMELL: Oh! Tyson Miller with the Cubs. He has a cutter and the guy, he’s not… he’s really good. I mean his stats speaks for themselves. He’s a guy who… he commands all of his pitches: fastball. He has a four-seam, cutter, change-up, slider, and I’m pretty sure he has a curveball. Not sure if he has a curveball or not, but..
JJ COOPER: It’s enough that you’re having to worry about.
TAYLOR TRAMMELL: He commands every pitch. He’s a really good pitcher. Who else would I say? There’s some guys, I don’t know their names but they’ve had… they’re pretty good.
JJ COOPER: Yeah. I mean It’s a tough…
TAYLOR TRAMMELL: The Rays. I think the Rays’ pitching…
JJ COOPER: Oh yeah. They’ve got a slew of guys.
TAYLOR TRAMMELL: Montgomery. Their pitching staff.
JJ COOPER: McWilliams has had a good year. They’ve had a number of guys who’ve had good years.
TAYLOR TRAMMELL: Yes, we actually didn’t get to face McKay early on in the season because he got moved up. But we had a rainout.
JJ COOPER: Now he’s got, you know how he’s just shoving against the…
TAYLOR TRAMMELL: Exactly. Exactly. But, that was one guy I wish I would have seen to see how his stuff was because I never got a chance to see him but he’s… from what I’ve heard from all the guys and Southern League he stoked.
JJ COOPER: Well, we really appreciate as always Taylor and good luck at the Futures Game again.
TAYLOR TRAMMELL: Thank you, guys. I appreciate it.