Michael Taylor has been promoted in August. Again. And this time it's to baseball's highest level.
The Nationals announced Sunday afternoon they were recalling their No. 3 prospect from Triple-A Syracuse for his big league debut Sunday night. There was an open spot in the outfield when Steven Souza Jr. was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a left shoulder contusion.
Taylor, a 2009 sixth-round Draft pick, had just been promoted to Syracuse following a breakout campaign with Double-A Harrisburg.
The 23-year-old outfielder, who had never batted higher than .263 or put up an OPS north of .767 entering 2014, was arguably the best hitter in the Eastern League, thanks to a big jump in the power department. As of Sunday, he was still the circuit's leader with a .539 slugging percentage and .935 OPS. Overall, he was batting .313 with 22 homers, 61 RBIs and 34 steals in 98 games with the Senators. His home run total was already a career high with about a month left in the Minor League season, trumping the 13 he hit in 2011 at Class A Hagerstown.
After his promotion to the International League, Taylor showed his capabilities early, going 2-for-2 with a double, an RBI, two walks and a stolen base in his Chiefs' debut. In four games with Syracuse, he was 5-for-13 with a triple, three doubles, two RBIs and four walks.
"I put a lot of work in in the offseason, working on my approach and my swing," Taylor told MiLB.com after his Triple-A debut. "But once the game starts, you're not trying to do too much, just trying to have fun and play the game the right way. I'm trying to be more consistent. There are still at-bats that get away from me.
"I definitely saw more off-speed pitches [this year] than anything else, so they are trying to pitch me a little backward, but that is pretty normal for the league. Just getting in a position to hit, I realized I'm able to hit more than just the fastball."
In addition to his prowess at the plate, MLB.com's No. 72 overall prospect received his highest grades for his fielding ability in center (65) and his run tool (60). That speed was on full display when he swiped 51 bags at Class A Advanced Potomac in 2013.
As exciting a prospect as he is, Taylor is likely to provide outfield depth for the time being with the Nats, who have Denard Span in center, Bryce Harper in left and Jayson Werth in right. His first chance at a full-time starting role, barring injury, might not come until 2015 if Washington decides against picking up Span's $9 million club option.