ST. PAUL, MN (January 28, 2014) – The St. Paul Saints added two players who believe in the mantra, “Have glove, will travel” as they re-signed infielder Joey Becker and traded for catcher/infielder Jake Taylor.
The 28-year-old Becker was one of the hottest hitters in the American Association during the first six weeks of the season in 2013. After compiling a .292 average in May, he hit a blistering .355 in June and finished the month seventh in the league in batting average. He finished the year hitting .259 with career highs in homers (4) and RBI (40). He also set a career high in games played, with 97, runs scored, 50, and doubles with 15. To go along with those solid stats he had one triple, an on base percentage of .308 and a slugging percentage of .335. Becker was an anchor on the left side of the defense playing 80 games at third and 13 at short. He even started a game in the outfield.
Becker made an impact right away with the Saints tying a career and franchise record high by scoring four runs on May 18 vs. the New Jersey Jackals. From June 14-July7 he reached base safely in 20 straight games and set a career high by hitting in 10 straight fromJune 25-July 7. Last season was the first time in his seven year career that he spent the entire season with one team.
Becker was a non-drafted free agent signee by the Dodgers in 2007 out of Antelope Valley College in Lancaster California. In 2007 he was selected to the Gulf Coast League Post-Season All-Star Team after he hit .284 with a home run and 20 RBI in 51 games. He finished fourth in the league in runs scored, with 39, and was the best fielding shortstop in the GCL with a .968 fielding percentage. He also helped turn a triple play a feat he would duplicate again in 2010 with Single-A Great Lakes. He finished the season first in the league in most double plays (31), most assists (141) and games at shortstop (51).
After struggling offensively in 2008, he put it all together over the next three seasons hitting .299 in 2009, .314 in 2010 and .300 in 2011, including a .310 average at Albuquerque in 70 games.
He spent the 2012 season at three separate stops in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization. He began the season at Triple-A Albuquerque, where he spent nearly two weeks. He was then assigned to Single-A Rancho Cucamonga, where he played in four games before he was promoted back to Albuquerque. On August 4 he was assigned to Double-A Chattanooga and finished the season there. Between the three stops he hit .234 with a home run and 18 RBI in 74 games. In 171 at bats he scored 23 runs, had five doubles, one triple, a .318 on base percentage and a .292 slugging percentage.
During his six seasons in the Dodgers organization he never stayed at one level for the entire season including playing at three levels three different times and once, in 2009, playing at four separate levels.
The 27-year-old Taylor was officially signed on Tuesday, but came over to the Saints on October 31 in a trade with the Sioux Falls Canaries that completed an earlier trade between the two clubs. Last season with the Canaries Taylor hit a solid .286 with five homers and 28 RBI in 70 games. In 266 at bats he scored 36 runs, had 15 doubles, one triple, an on base percentage of .339 and slugged .406. He played 38 games behind the plate, 24 at second, five in the outfield and one at first base. When behind the plate he threw out 27% of would be base stealers.
Taylor was a 35th round selection by the Florida Marlins in the 2005 June Amateur Draft out of Chaffey College (Rancho Cucamonga, CA), but elected not to sign. His professional career began in 2010 when he signed with the Oakland County Cruisers of the Frontier League on August 3. He played 10 games that season for the Cruisers.
In 2011 Taylor began his American Association tenure when he signed as a free agent with the Grand Prairie AirHogs. He hit .266 with four homers and 25 RBI in his first full season of professional baseball. In 2012 the Sioux Falls Pheasants (now the Canaries) signed Taylor as a free agent. He hit .268 with three homers and 27 RBI in his first season with them.