On Saturday, one of our staff writers at District On Deck, Brandon Conner, posted a piece in which he thought Bryce Harper Should Replace Denard Span In Center” href=”https://districtondeck.com/2015/03/21/washington-nationals-opinions-bryce-harper-should-replace-denard-span-in-center/”>Bryce Harper should fill in for Denard Span in center field while he is on the disabled list. As Harper will play in right field for the Nats to start the 2015 season two weeks from today, it is tough to ask a player to play all three outfield positions within a two year period. Plus, the Washington Nationals already have a capable center fielder on the roster that is making waves this spring.
Yes, you have to preface it with it’s only spring training, but Michael Taylor has had an excellent month of March. The 23-year old, who turns 24 on Friday is hitting .324 at the plate with three home runs and five RBI’s. This includes the two home runs he hit against Justin Verlander down in Lakeland yesterday. Plus, he is 6-for-17 at the plate in his last five games.
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At first, I was hesitant to say Taylor should be the opening day center fielder because I thought Taylor should get a chance to play everyday in Syracuse before getting in the big leagues. However, Taylor is the perfect fit for this position.
If you look at his minor league numbers from last season, the sixth round pick in the 2009 MLB Draft for the Nats made just two errors in center if you combine his numbers with double-A Harrisburg and triple-A Syracuse over 99 games. In addition, according to MLB Farm, Taylor did not make an error in his final 23 games of last season.
While Harper is an intriguing candidate for center field, keep in mind that Harper only played that spot in seven games last season and in the minors, he didn’t play more than 20 games at the position. (low-A Hagerstown in 2012)
It is well known about Taylor that he can bring the power to the ballpark, but he has also been praised for his defense as well, which is crucial to be a great center fielder in the majors. When Minor League Baseball released its Organizational All-Stars this winter, Taylor received a good endorsement from Mark Scialabba, the team’s director of player development, about his glove and his arm:
"“He’s got tremendous tools, he’s exciting, has tremendous range — he definitely has an above-average arm, an accurate arm, the ball stays true and on a line. He’s someone who can impact the game on both sides, he’s special to watch, said Scialabba” (h/t MILB.com)"
All in all, it will be interesting to see how Taylor fares at the leadoff man for the Nationals, but he is the best defensive option for the center field spot while Span is out. Plus, as an added benefit, the Nationals will get to see whether or not their top position player prospect can handle playing that spot down the road should Span leave for free agency at the end of the season.