Sure, a game-winning grand slam in the 9th inning might earn you a little attention. Do it to help earn your team its 13th win in the last 15 games? Forget about it. Michael Taylor has silently been putting together a strong rookie campaign, giving manager Matt Williams a tough decision once players return from injury.
Among rookies with at least 75 PAs, here are Taylor’s ranks: batting average (7th), home runs (T-5th), stolen bases (T-3rd), and RBIs (T-7th). No, those are not Rookie of the Year, eye popping numbers, but the 24-year-old outfielder is showing his Washington club what he has in store for 2015 and beyond.
According to mlb.com, Taylor put up a .263/.337/.429 slash line, averaging 15.6 home runs and 40.7 stolen bases per 162 games across his five years in the minor leagues. He entered this season as the Nationals’ No.3 overall prospect and the top position player in the team’s farm system. As current center fielder Denard Span‘s contract expires after this season, it is understood that the position is Taylor’s come 2016.
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But what does that mean for the speedy outfielder in 2015? He has only one at-bat as a pinch hitter this season, making appearances mostly to give fellow outfielders rest or to cover injuries. The outfield is essentially set in stone with the trio of Jayson Werth-Span-Bryce Harper. Is another season in AAA Syracuse the inevitable destination for Taylor? It seems likely, having already been sent down once, only to be called right back up after utility man Reed Johnson‘s injury.
Once Anthony Rendon recovers and completes his rehab starts, he will most likely bump Taylor back down to the minors. Dan Uggla would not accept a minor league assignment and would have to be released, and Tyler Moore is out of options and likely wouldn’t clear waivers, so the decision for Williams and Team President Mike Rizzo should be a no-brainer. The Nats have control over Taylor and might as well take advantage of it.
However, the team clearly benefits from his presence, and it is no easy choice to take him off the 25-man roster. While he waits in the wing, he can get consistent at-bats for the Syracuse Chiefs and work on cutting down his well-documented high strikeout rate. So yes, while game saving grand slams in 2015 are nice and all, the future is bright in Washington, D.C., and his name is Michael A. Taylor.