With Jayson Werth and Steven Souza dealing with injuries, the Nationals reportedly decided to call up their No. 3 prospect—according to the Midseason Prospect Update, available for sale now—Michael Taylor.
Taylor has built upon a solid 2013 season, breaking out the power scouts projected (22 homers) and showing the speed that has tantalized (35 steals on 43 tries) the Nats.
Taylor was scratched from Saturday’s game with Triple-A Syracuse and was set to join the Nationals today. It’s unclear what the 25-man roster move will be to add him prior to Sunday’s game.
Taylor has been one of the breakout stars in the minors in 2014. His defense, speed and baserunning have always been present and plus tools, but his average, on-base and power production have picked up (.315/.401/.547).
The higher power production has come at the expense of making contact, as his strikeout rate is up to nearly 30 percent from the 22 percent in 2013.
He’s also hitting an unsustainable .442 when he puts the ball in play, opposed to .329 in 2013 and opposed to the league average of .336.
One rival evaluator said Taylor always worked hard but his stay in the Puerto Rican league turned on the light switch for him, and that Taylor brought an improved plate approach back with him this season.
Taylor, 23, was promoted to Syracuse last week when Souza was called up to majors. In four games with Syracuse, Taylor was 5-for-13 with three doubles and four walks.
WHAT TO EXPECT
Taylor can step in right now and play above-average defense in any of the three outfield spots. In spring training, Nats manager Matt Williams rated Taylor an 80 defender on the 20-80 scout scale.
Taylor earns frequent physical comparisons to Mike Cameron and Adam Jones, but fantasy owners should not expect that kind of offensive production, especially at the start of his big league career. He will bring stolen bases if given the playing time, but his swing-and-miss tendencies and problems with offspeed pitches will negatively impact his average and likely his power at the start.
He does punish fastballs so Taylor could get some extra-base hits early until pitchers learn his strengths and weaknesses.
It stands to reason Taylor’s major league stay will last only as long as either Werth’s or Souza’s DL stint, assuming that’s the move, but that Taylor could return in September when rosters expand. He’d be a valuable pinch-runner and defensive replacement, at the minimum, for a team chasing a division title.