Down on the Farm: Checking in on the Nationals’ Top 5 Prospects

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Jul 13, 2014; Minneapolis, MN, USA; USA players

Michael Taylor

(left) and

J.P. Crawford

celebrate after defeating the World during the All Star Futures Game at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

No. 3: Michael Taylor, OF – Double-A Harrisburg

Outfielder Michael Taylor has come a long way since the Nationals drafted him in the 6th round of the 2009 First Year Player Draft and, like Goodwin, he is also considered by many to be the Nationals’ center fielder of the future.

Taylor quickly made his way through the Nationals’ Gulf Coast League team and Class A Hagerstown in 2010-2011 before earning a promotion to High-A Potomac in 2012. But inconsistency at the plate and trouble adjusting to breaking balls temporarily stalled Taylor’s progress and the young outfielder spent two full seasons at Potomac.

In 2013, however, Taylor showed signs of progress and turned in his best season with Potomac. The right-handed hitting outfielder batted .263 with 10 home runs and 87 RBIs while stealing 51 bases in 133 games.

Taylor’s improvement earned him a promotion to Double-A Harrisburg, where he is in the midst of the best season of his career. In 88 games, Taylor is hitting .323 with 18 home runs and 54 RBIs. The outfielder has also scored 67 runs and stolen 27 bases.

“That was exciting,” Taylor said of hitting leadoff at the Futures game to Sunday. “It just takes some of the nerves out. You don’t have to worry about when you’re going to get in or anything like that. So I’m excited about that.”

Taylor’s breakout season earned him an invitation to the Futures Game, where he went 1-4 from the leadoff spot for Team USA.

While he has improved in almost every aspect of his game, Taylor still struggles with breaking balls outside the zone and has struck out 116 times this season. But if he continues to improve his consistency at the plate and cuts down on his strike outs, Taylor could make the big league club as early as next season.

With his improvement at the plate and the development of his power, along with his speed and defensive prowess in center field, Taylor is back on the fast track to the big leagues and could develop into an elite, five-tool player. Denard Span may be the Nationals’ everyday center fielder right now, but Taylor is coming – and he’s coming fast.