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Update: Taylor promoted to Syracuse

Aug 4, 2014, 6:42 PM EST


[Updated 6:47 p.m.]

Nationals minor leaguer Michael A. Taylor – considered the organization’s best position player prospect – has been promoted from Double-A Harrisburg to Triple-A Syracuse, Nats general manager Mike Rizzo confirmed on Monday.

Taylor, 23, was enjoying a breakout season with the Senators. Through 98 games he hit .313 with 22 home runs, 61 RBI and 34 stolen bases. He held a .935 OPS and scored 74 runs.

“He’s having a breakout season,” Rizzo said. “He’s a guy that’s come along and that we’ve taken it a little slower with because he was drafted as a shortstop out of high school and had to make the transition to the outfield. But he’s a guy who I think his development has finally caught up to his natural physical skills and tools.”

Taylor joins Syracuse on the day standout Steven Souza, Jr. was promoted to the majors. Taylor, a center fielder, is in his fifth minor league season and holds a .262 career average. He was picked in the sixth round of the 2009 MLB Draft.

Nationals manager Matt Williams saw Taylor up close in spring training and is impressed with how far the outfielder has come since.

“He’s found his power stroke. He’s had a really good year,” Williams said. “His pitch recognition is improving on a daily basis. He is as good as I’ve seen in the outfield, he can cover extreme ground out there. He makes it look really easy in center field.

“He’s a young hitter still, but he’s made those adjustments and he continues to make them. Now he’ll have another test, but that’s part of the progression that he has to go through. He’s had a great year. Power numbers are good and he’s getting a lot of basehits.”

Taylor will now get to show what he can do at the highest level of minor league baseball. The promotion gives him nearly a month to prove himself for a call-up when rosters expand in September.

  1. knoxvillenat - Aug 4, 2014 at 3:25 PM

    Well deserved and hope he does well with the Chiefs. Perhaps we will see him in September with the big club.

  2. Sonny G 10 - Aug 4, 2014 at 3:32 PM

    Sounds like Souza might be here for a while, if Taylor has been promoted as his replacement at AAA.

  3. laddieblahblah - Aug 4, 2014 at 3:37 PM

    Eric – from a prior thread, “As for RISP, I tend to think of that as an execution problem, not so much a coaching problem; what do you think Matt can/will do in that regard?”

    I think he will move Rendon to the 5th spot in the order and Desi to the 7th. Rendon can hit anywhere, and is already the Nats best run producer, and from the 2-hole, yet. In the 5 slot, he will come to the plate much more frequently with RISP. Desi has been a great run producer from the 7 slot, but has not performed very well from higher up in the order. Don’t really know why, but it’s a fact.

    Cabrera would take over the 2-slot, in that scenario. Matt has hinted as much, and has started Cabrera in the bottom half of the order so as not to put too much pressure on him right out of the gate – or so he said, in so many words. If Asdrubal can move Span up, and/or get on base, himself, the move will work.

    From what I’ve seen, Cabrera looks as happy to be a Nat as anyone save for Rendon. Some have mentioned the effect of a change in scenery and what it could do to rejuvenate Cabrera’s game. He has been a much more productive player in the past than he has been this year, playing for an also-ran team with no hope of the post-season. Suddenly, he finds himself in the middle of a pennant race for a team that needs him to step up. We’ll see if he does.

    Souza’s promotion has set off a chain reaction. Taylor needs to show he can hit at a higher level, and he, in turn, has been blocking Ballou and Bautista, both of whom played for that wildly successful GCL team last year, and one of whom, Ballou, is already in High A Potomac while Bautista (younger by about 2 years or so) is in Low A Hagerstown. Wouldn’t be surprised to see both of those guys move up, behind Taylor. All 3 play CF, and of the 3, I like Bautista the most.

    Don’t anyone sell Souza short. He is not only the best minor league baseball player on the planet, he is, for all practical purposes, in a league all his own. See the article I linked earlier for comparisons to the career trajectory of other late bloomer, like Alan Craig, Gene Freese, and our own Michael Morse. None of them made it in the ML earlier than age 25, and Souza has more talent than any of them.

    I think he makes the post-season roster over Hairston. He will play next year in RF backing up Werth, and at 1b backing up Zim. He played both in the minors. I would not be surprised to see him win the RF starting job from Jayson next year. Write it down. Jayson will be 36, and already is long past the age when most guys have to take a seat.

    • sjm308 - Aug 4, 2014 at 3:46 PM

      Laddie – I have mentioned this before and don’t need to blow smoke anywhere near you but I really enjoy your analysis – don’t always agree with everything but you really think things out.


      • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 4, 2014 at 4:37 PM

        I agree. Laddie adds so much to this blog.

        I look forward to his posts.

    • David Proctor - Aug 4, 2014 at 3:48 PM

      We are not going to pay Jayson $20M to be a glorified bench player.

      • laddieblahblah - Aug 4, 2014 at 4:40 PM

        They will pay him $20 mn regardless of where he is, including the DL.

      • David Proctor - Aug 4, 2014 at 4:43 PM

        Not sure I get your point. Yes, he’s going to get paid, but they’re not going to bench him just because he’s old. He might get more days off, but he’s not losing his starting spot.

      • laddieblahblah - Aug 4, 2014 at 5:07 PM

        “Not sure I get your point.”

        The point that is relevant is that Jayson is already well pas the age when most players have to take a seat, not because of their age, but because of its effect on their performance. You can look all over the league and find very highly paid bench guys who are over the hill, some even before their time. Dan Uggla comes to mind. They paid him to sit, until they just let him go. They will be paying him next year, even if he decides to spend his time in Vegas.

        “Yes, he’s going to get paid, but they’re not going to bench him just because he’s old.”

        Did I say that? I don’t think so. But they will bench him just as the Braves benched Uggla if he suddenly loses it, and at age 36, he very well could, especially if he gets injured, as happened to Ryan Howard, who is younger than Werth is, right now.

    • langleyclub - Aug 4, 2014 at 3:49 PM

      Ballou never played on the Nats’ dominant GCL team last year. Upon signing with the Nats last June, Isaac Ballou played for Auburn in the NY/Penn League, and then, Ballou was promoted to Hagerstown late in the season. Ballou has played well for a 15th round pick, but at 24+, he has always been old for his league.

      • laddieblahblah - Aug 4, 2014 at 4:39 PM

        I prefer Bautista, regardless, who did play in GCL. The Penn League is just nominally a smidgen above the GCL, if that. Last year’s Auburn team was not nearly as good as that GCL team, which also had Drew Ward, still only 19, who also skipped the Penn League and went to Hagerstown this year. You could argue that Ballou actually started at a lower competitive level than Bautista last year, and you would probably win that one, on the merits.

        The main reason Ballou is in high A this year is his age. That is also the main reasonI rate Bajutista higher than either Balllou or Taylor. Taylor is only about 18 months younger than Souza, and has not shown anywhere near the consistent ability that Souza has demonstrated at the higher AAA level, or at a similar age level.

        Nevertheless, I did not mean to mislead anyone about Ballou. He has shown a lot for a guy with such limited professional experience, but that is tempered by his relatively advanced age for either the GCL or the Penn League, or even for Potomac.

    • bowdenball - Aug 4, 2014 at 3:56 PM

      “In the 5 slot, he will come to the plate much more frequently with RISP. ”

      Do you have any evidence to support this? I’m not sure it’s true. The 5 hitter frequently leads off the second inning, or bats second in that inning with nobody on, or bats after the cleanup hitter has cleared the RISP with a hit.

      I think the only thing you accomplish by moving a talented hitter from the 2 spot to the 5 spot and replacing him with a less talented hitter is you occasionally shoot yourself in the foot in the ninth inning of a close game by wasting the extra plate appearance on a less talented hitter.

      • laddieblahblah - Aug 4, 2014 at 4:43 PM

        Most teams put their best RBI man, or one of their best, in the 5-slot, regardless of any other consideration. They do not normally slot such a hitter in the 2-hole. That’s the conventional wisdom, and it may be mistaken, but you would think the conventional wisdom would have been proven wrong, by now.

        Surely one of the stat mavens can give us an answer.

      • masterfishkeeper - Aug 4, 2014 at 5:08 PM

        The stat mavens basically believe in putting your best hitters first, or at least your best OBP hitters. I’m not sure it’s truly something that can be proven, but it makes sense. You want your best hitters to get as many at bats as possible.

        Also, what ends innings are three outs. You want the hitters who make the most outs at the back of the order, whether or not they have power.

    • Eric - Aug 4, 2014 at 4:09 PM

      Ah, gotcha. You’re saying MW will try to move the needle on RISP as a coach via line up decisions, not via direct coaching of players. Makes sense, thanks!

      As for Cabrera, this is a totally inane, subjective observation, but his presence at the plate makes me feel like he’s going to succeed. Maybe it’s just his game face or something. At any rate, I look forward to seeing what he brings over time and hope that subjective perception is backed up by some production.

      • laddieblahblah - Aug 4, 2014 at 4:52 PM

        “As for Cabrera, this is a totally inane, subjective observation, but his presence at the plate makes me feel like he’s going to succeed. Maybe it’s just his game face or something.”

        You can see his presence, both at the plate and in the field. Look at Werth and Rendon and La Roche, too. They know what they’re doing. Span has found his groove, too. Does he look confident, or what? Cabrera has that look. Danny did not. Subjective observations are not inane. Field managers have to make them, all the time.

        To me, a field manager’s job is to win, and his best chance to win is to put his players in the best possible position for them to succeed. That has not always been the case with the Nats’ field manager, e.g. Davey’s almost pathological insistence on putting Espinosa in the leadoff slot, no matter how often and how badly he failed in that position, is Exhibit A. I think Matt is in the “give them the best chance to succeed” camp, both for the individual player and the team, as a group.

        His biggest problem, right now, is improving the offense. He may do something completely different from what I had suggested, but I am confident he will do the best he can to get the optimum results for the team.

      • Eric - Aug 4, 2014 at 4:58 PM

        I didn’t mean to imply that subjective observations are inherently inane, just that I feel I lack sufficient baseball experience to chalk mine up to much of anything.

        I agree MW will do his best, and I feel his best is a lot better than some allow.

  4. ptindc - Aug 4, 2014 at 3:40 PM

    I wonder if this means that Souza is with the big club at least until September 1?

  5. Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 4, 2014 at 3:42 PM

    Like I wrote this morning, Michael Taylor has already been told he could be called up in August and certainly for September.

    Unfortunately there will be few reps for the youngster other than pinch running and some late inning defense and some pinch hits until the Nats clinch.

    • David Proctor - Aug 4, 2014 at 3:46 PM

      Taylor will basically be what Eury Perez was in 2012. Except Taylor is a much better player and can get the ball out of the infield.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 4, 2014 at 3:48 PM

        He’s also long-term.

      • David Proctor - Aug 4, 2014 at 4:00 PM

        Correct, but it’s certain they pick up Span’s option now. Which isn’t a bad thing, Taylor needs the time at Syracuse. He has to cut down the strikeouts.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 4, 2014 at 4:04 PM

        Almost certain.

  6. David Proctor - Aug 4, 2014 at 3:44 PM

    If they promoted Taylor, they effectively filled Souza’s spot at Syracuse, which leads me to believe he’s up for good. How much playing time he gets will be interesting to watch, but according to Wagner and others, he’s taking grounders at 1B. He should at least play all 3 games in Seattle, with the DH.

    By the way, Harper was on XM radio earlier. He effusively praised Span (and Rendon) for the job they’ve done setting the table.

    • Eric - Aug 4, 2014 at 4:11 PM

      Nice to hear re: Harp’s comments.

      These roster moves are proving to be as fascinating as the trade deadline was.

    • laddieblahblah - Aug 4, 2014 at 4:58 PM

      “(H)e’s taking grounders at 1B.”

      I just pointed out a few threads back that he has played one full year at 1b in the minors, and can fill the backup requirement for both Werth in RF and Zim (or La Roche) at 1b. He is much more versatile and much more skilled than either Hairston in the OF and Frandsen at 1b.

      He will be with the big team next year, unless he gets hurt in ST. Rizzo would have traded him if Souza was not a part of the team’s plans for both the stretch run this year, and for next season.

  7. Eric - Aug 4, 2014 at 4:04 PM

    Ghost, Smyrcok, I’m pulling this up from an earlier thread

    Eric – Aug 4, 2014 at 1:57 PM

    +1. I like especially that Zim himself stated he’s hopeful about an early September return, and says 2 weeks prior to the end of the season is the “worst case” scenario.

    Ghost of Steve M. – Aug 4, 2014 at 2:04 PM

    I’m probably over thinking this but

    Do you think they know something good and just fed Ladson a bunch of bull?

    The timing was impeccable and was done right before the trade deadline.

    I wondered regularly during the run up to the deadline if the Nats were trying to pump up perceived demand, or at least letting Ladson/the media do that for them. I don’t see what they’d have to lose from doing that; however, I have no idea if something like that would actually put any trades out of opponents’ reach, cause them to mortgage too much of their future, etc. Those dynamics are far beyond my knowledge.

    Smyrcok – Aug 4, 2014 at 2:15 PM

    Eric, are any of those recent comments or are they from right after the injury?

    They were recent comments…maybe from over the weekend? I’ll have to go back and look.

    • Smyrcok - Aug 4, 2014 at 4:22 PM

      Thanks for the follow up Eric!

      • Eric - Aug 4, 2014 at 4:24 PM

        You’re welcome…still trying to find where I read about it, although it looks like it was more or less covered in that thread?

  8. David Proctor - Aug 4, 2014 at 4:18 PM

    Jayson won player of the month

    • natsfan1a - Aug 4, 2014 at 5:19 PM

      Ah-woo-ooo! Er, I mean congrats!

  9. whatsanattau - Aug 4, 2014 at 11:49 PM

    Sousa will be packaged with a starting pitcher in an off-season trade for a power hitting infielder and a younger pitcher. Werth will start in right field for two more years before being traded in a deadline deal. (It will be a sad day). Span will have his option picked up and play everyday. Zimmerman will have his best year next year playing three positions. Espinosa will start the year as the starting shortstop for a major league team before being moved to the bench in June.

    Hey this is fun.

    BTW, Putin resigns from office after scandal rocks the Kremlin and Israel signs a peace treaty with Syria.





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