Michael A. Taylor
Washington Nationals Outfielder
Nationals Prospect Ranking:
7th Baseball America
9th by Keith Law, ESPN
Whether it was good timing or luck, for the second time this year I was able to see a top prospect prior to promotion. Due to the injuries to recently recalled Steven Souza and Jayson Werth, it has surfaced on twitter that Michael A. Taylor (with the A. to discern him from former prospect Michael Taylor from Oakland) will be called up to join the Nationals tomorrow in Atlanta. It was a family night promotion so it was pretty busy at the park but I did my best to get video from my seat. Before I roll to the videos, I have to say that describing Taylor as lanky is an understatement. When I watched Gregory Polanco, he had more muscle tone on him but Michael is much thinner. However, one thing that he does possess is a very strong arm from center field. He threw out a runner attempting to score from second on a single with a simple release but it was a frozen rope. I was distracted by being Dad at that so no video of the throw but it was fantastic.
Before I analyze his at bats, here are his minor league stats for the 2014 season by level:
AA Stats: 98 G, 74 R, 22 HR, 61 RBI, 34 SB, 313/396/539
AAA Stats: 4 G, 2 R, 0 HR, 2 RBI, 1 SB, 385/401/769
2014 Minors (combined totals): 102 G, 76 R, 22 HR, 63 RBI, 35 SB, 315/401/547
After some research, it appears that Taylor has adjusted his swing but in my view it was a clean, compact approach. He has a simple load and can turn on the ball quickly. What is lacking though is pitch recognition and patience. His first at bat lasted all of fourteen seconds as he swung at the first pitch and flew out to short right field. In his second at bat, he saw more pitches but it resulted in a little humpback liner over the pitcher in which he was thrown out:
Taylor does have speed and it comes easy in his acceleration. Again, I was at the game with my son and a friend so I could not time him to first base. However, in his third at bat you can see lightning strike as he hit a double down the third base line and him easing into second base with minimal effort:
However, what does worry me a bit is highlighted in this at bat. He bunted and instead of running it out, assumed it was foul and was thrown out as the ball started out foul but rolled into fair territory. The Louisville third baseman saw he was not running so he allowed the ball to roll instead of touching it in foul ground and easily threw him out. That is a hard way to make a good impression upon a promotion from AA, but better to learn a lesson now than in Atlanta. Here is the video from that at bat:
What I did not highlight in his minor league stats was his strikeout to walk ratio. Between the two levels this year, he has struck out 132 times with 54 walks. That is almost a 2.5/1 ratio but it is an improvement. The video from his last at bat exacerbates his propensity to be a strikeout victim:
When I was fortunate enough to watch Gregory Polanco, there was a presence to him that made you feel like he did not belong in the minors. While I liked some of Michael A. Taylor’s game Friday night, I think he needs more seasoning at this level. Even though he is in the midst of a career year in the minors, staying at AAA and working through his approach would benefit him. His defense is big league ready but he may struggle to make contact in his first go around in the majors. Deeper mixed leaguers can possibly benefit by adding him and NL only owners will bid. I think we will see more speed initially than power but his tools are intriguing. It will be interesting to track. Whereas I saw Polanco as an immediate add, I would take a wait and see approach to Taylor for 2014.
Greg Jewett is The Sports Script’s senior fantasy baseball writer. Follow him on Twitter @gjewett9!
Statistical credits: MiLB.com, ESPN.com, Baseball America
Photo cred: http://goo.gl/UrV6Li (Reddick), http://goo.gl/BDjtqD (Peralta)