Notes: Taylor's outfield defense; Kowar sharp

March 2nd, 2021

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- gave a peek into what he can do defensively in the Royals’ 8-6 win over Cleveland on Monday at Goodyear Ballpark.

In the first inning, Eddie Rosario launched a pitch that looked like a no-doubt homer off Royals pitching prospect , but the wind blowing straight into the ballpark brought the ball back toward Taylor in center field, where he tracked it to the warning track and made an over-the-shoulder catch.

Taylor then heaved the ball to Carlos Santana at first base to double off runner Cesar Hernandez.

It was the kind of defense the Royals want to see in the expansive Kauffman Stadium outfield, where they’ll send Taylor out to patrol come Opening Day.

“I honestly like big outfields,” Taylor said. “Before this year, one of my favorite places to play was in Colorado. They also have a very big outfield, and the ball seems like it stays in the air forever. So you just have a ton of time to run after the ball, and I enjoy yards like that.”

Royals manager Mike Matheny added: “His arm is even better than what I remembered it being. ... I think he’s going to be able to enjoy using his speed and to roam and to use his athleticism. He fits in really well for what we want to do defensively. We want to be an airtight-style defense that’s taking away runs all the time, and Michael is excited about his role with that.”

After the catch, Taylor singled in the top of the second inning to go 1-for-2 in his Royals debut. After the Royals signed him to a one-year deal this offseason, Taylor said he’s worked on his swing and feels like it’s in a good place to get game reps this spring.

And those game reps aren’t something he takes lightly.

“I want to hit the ground running,” Taylor said. “There will be some things that I’ll come into the game where I know I want to -- whether it’s drop a bunt down or get an opportunity to steal a bag, but I really try to just play the game like it’s midseason or the postseason. I want to come into Spring Training where I can go out there and play the game hard, and I don’t really have to ease my way into it.

“You work your way into the innings you play, but while I’m out there, I want to be 100 percent and play the game.”

Kowar sharp in spring debut
Kowar pitched two scoreless innings in his spring debut -- aided by that impressive catch from Taylor in the first. The Royals’ No. 4 prospect allowed three hits, struck out two and didn’t walk a batter.

Kowar flashed what he worked on at the Royals’ alternate training site in 2020, striking out Franmil Reyes on a curveball and Bobby Bradley on his signature changeup while also touching 96-97 mph on the fastball throughout his outing.

“I thought Jackson set the pace really well,” Matheny said. “His stuff was exactly what we were hoping for. He was repeating. The spin on the breaking ball looked really good. He was locating the fastball, controlling counts, to where then the changeup is going to play. It’s just that good of a pitch. But it’s that much better when he’s got the other two working. So that was a good start to the day.”

Spring televised games
The Royals announced Monday that six of their Spring Training games will be shown on Fox Sports Kansas City this month, starting on Sunday against San Diego, using the Padres’ feed. Fox Sports Kansas City will also show games on March 10, 16, 19, 21 and 25.

The Royals’ game against the Dodgers on Friday will be televised on ESPN. And many more games will be available via MLB.TV.