Born: Tampa, Florida
Age: 22 (10/20/96)
Height/Weight: 5’11”/170 lbs.
School: Duke (Durham, North Carolina)
The son of a pair of track and field athletes, Kennie Taylor has followed in his parents’ footsteps, excelling athletically. As a high school player, he never hit worse than .344, hitting .344/.410/.484 as a sophomore, .348/.461/.620 as a junior, and .429/.505/.667 as a senior for Jesuit High School in his native Tampa. A follow of interest at the time, he had a verbal commitment to attend Duke University, and went undrafted a result.
Taylor had trouble acclimating himself to collegiate baseball, hitting .167/.286/.250 in just 12 at-bats. He made up for his lack of performance in his freshman year with an excellent showing as a sophomore. In 45 games- 35 in centerfield and 10 at DH- he hit .314/.383/.496, ranking second on the team in batting average. He played for the La Crosse Loggers of the Northwoods League that summer and hit .330/.430/.471 in 51 games. Returning to Duke for his junior year in 2018, Taylor started 61 games he played in centerfield and hit .283/.347/.461. He went undrafted and returned to Duke in 2019 to finish up his college career. Named the captain of the Blue Devils, Tayor hit .333/.400/.535 in 53 games through NCAA Regionals. He led the team in hits, doubles, home runs, and stolen bases, and was one of two players to reach base in every single game.
At the plate, Taylor holds his hands low. He has a short stroke, mainly utilizing his upper body strength. His bat speed and the uppercut in his swing give him some sneaky pop, but Taylor is a hit over power profile. Most of his home run power comes from pulling pitches thrown inside with his quick hands, but he is otherwise primarily a gap hitter. There is more swing and miss than you would like to see from Taylor than you would like to see from a player like Taylor. Speed is his carrying tool, regularly posting average-to-above-average numbers out of the box.
Defensively, he has a below average arm, which limits his upside as an outfielder. Thanks to his speed, he is a capable center fielder, but if he begins losing speed, he will be limited to left. He reads the ball well off of the bat and has plenty of range to cover ground. He also has experience playing second base, where he has showed range, quick reactions, and solid footwork around the bag.