Ward catching knowledge from Molina brothers

Angels' top prospect taken 26th overall in 2015 Draft

Ward catching knowledge from Molina brothers

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Catching prospect Taylor Ward isn't in big league camp to win a job. He isn't in camp to put up big numbers. He's in camp for one reason and one reason only: to learn.

Ward, the Angels' first-round pick in last June's Draft and the club's top prospect, has been learning from some of the best, too. He's been working with former big league catchers Jose and Bengie Molina and says they've already made a profound impact on his game.

"As a kid, I would always watch Jose," Ward said. "He's the best in the business with receiving. Now that he's right here, and I can ask him any questions and learn from him, it's a real treat."

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The Angels selected Ward out of Fresno State with the 26th overall pick in the most recent Draft. In his first professional season, he posted a .348 average and an .895 OPS, splitting time between Rookie-level Orem and Class A Burlington.

Ward has spent much of this spring learning the nuances of his position. The Molina brothers have already tweaked Ward's setup behind the plate, in an effort to augment his pitch-framing. They've also worked with him on footwork.

And Ward is eagerly absorbing all of the advice.

"I know soon I'll be sent back down [to Minor League camp] to apply everything that I've learned," Ward said. "I'm not here to win a spot or anything like that. I just want to learn."

Angels skipper Mike Scioscia knows there are plenty of benefits that come along with giving a 22-year-old a chance to be a part of big league camp, even if it's only for a short while.

"Just being around the experience that we have here as far as catching instruction would be beneficial for any young catcher," Scioscia said. "And Taylor is certainly just observing and asking a lot of questions."

But there's more to Ward's presence in big league camp than a chance to develop his catching skills.

He's soaking in the environment of a Major League clubhouse, and -- hopeful to emulate them one day -- he has a keen eye on the way big leaguers conduct themselves.

"Just being able to walk over and talk to Geovany Soto and Carlos Perez, guys that have been there, just being able to see how Mike Trout and Albert Pujols act and how they go about their business every day -- it's something you want to mirror," Ward said. "They're here [in the Majors], so you want to learn from them."

AJ Cassavell is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.