Michael Taylor can do a little bit of everything on the baseball field. He has a good arm, speed to burn and patrols the outfield adequately. He admits his bat is the worst tool in his arsenal, which is somewhat ironic when you consider the offensive show he put on Sunday afternoon.
The No. 4 Nationals prospect went 3-for-4 with a career-high three homers, four RBIs, four runs scored and a walk in the Double-A Harrisburg Senators' 10-7 win over the visiting Bowie Baysox.
Not bad for a leadoff hitter whose job description is to get on base for the team's sluggers. But he considers himself a hitter first and a leadoff man second.
"Really just to set the table and get on base to let the other guys hit me in," Taylor said of his role. "But in my eyes, I'm only the leadoff hitter for the first inning.
"Right now [my hitting] is not where I want it to be, but I'm definitely making strides and getting better every day. I want a couple more days like this. I would like to do everything in the game and do whatever the team needs."
It was Taylor's second multi-homer game and his 18th contest with three or more hits. His four runs scored also marked a career high. He fell shy of his personal best six RBIs, achieved with Hagerstown on Aug. 1, 2011.
Taylor is the fifth player in Senators history to hit three homers in a game, joining Ron Johns (1987), Bob Natal (1991), Dee Brown (2005) and Danny Espinosa (2010).
Selected by the Nationals in the sixth round of the 2009 Draft, Taylor smacked the first pitch he saw from left-hander Tim Berry over the center-field wall to lead off the first inning and he slugged Berry's 3-1 offering over the 400-foot sign in center for a two-run long ball in the third.
"I have been taking a lot of first-pitch strikes and a couple guys have encouraged me to be more aggressive," Taylor said of his first homer. "I wanted something up in the zone. It was the first ball I've hit out to center field all year, even in batting practice, so I wasn't 100 percent sure off the bat.
"[The second home run] was another fastball, 3-1, down in the zone. He had thrown a couple off-speed pitches before that, then a fastball in, then he left one over the plate and I was able to square it up."
In the sixth, Taylor fell behind Steve Hensley 0-2, but the reliever came right at the Nationals center fielder, who promptly went the other way for a solo homer to right field.
Taylor said his ability to take breaking pitches earlier in the game helped him sit on the fastball.
"Once you get to this level, guys are going to challenge you," said Taylor, whose father, Anthony, was on hand to witness the 23-year-old's career day. "If you are not laying off the slider, they will keep going back to it. But I was able to lay off it, so eventually they had to give me something to hit. They don't want to walk you four times a game.
"In the offseason I focused on staying through the ball and trying to get a little more extension. Hopefully this game means that is working and that my swing is coming around. For me, it all goes back to my timing. When I can get my foot down and give myself enough time to recognize [breaking balls], I can lay off those pitches in the dirt."
Taylor joins Joey Gallo and J.D. Martinez as the third Minor League to hit three homers in a game this season.
Taylor's offense proved more than enough for Senators starter Felipe Rivero (1-4) who allowed one unearned run on two hits and four walks over five innings.
Berry (1-1) yielded nine runs on nine hits and a walk while striking out three over four innings.