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Washington Nationals promote prospect Michael Taylor

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Michael Taylor
Michael Taylor
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Nationals are expected to promote outfield prospect Michael A. Taylor to the major league roster this afternoon, in time for tonight's contest with the Atlanta Braves. This has been reported by multiple sources including MLB.com and Mark Zuckerman from Natsinsider.

Taylor was drafted by the Nationals in the sixth round in 2009 from high school in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Originally a shortstop, he struggled initially and hit just .195/.270/.297 in 38 games for the rookie ball GCL Nationals in 2010. Converted to the outfield, he took a large step forward for Low-A Hagerstown in the South Atlantic League in 2011, hitting .253/.310/.432 with 13 homers and 23 steals, then spent all of 2012 (.242/.318/.362) and 2013 (.263/.340/.426) with High-A Potomac in the Carolina League.

2014 has been much better: he hit .313/.396/.539 with 22 homers, 34 steals, 50 walks, and 130 strikeouts in 384 at-bats for Double-A Harrisburg. Promoted to Triple-A Syracuse last week, he's 5-for-13 (.385) with three doubles and four walks in his first four games. His tremendous progress this year was recognized by his selection to the 2014 Futures Game.

Taylor is a 6-2, 210 pound right-handed hitter and thrower, born March 26, 1991. He's very athletic, with above-average speed, a strong throwing arm, and exceptional outfield instincts. He has the tools and skills to be a Gold Glove outfielder if he hits enough to play regularly.

Offensively, Taylor has good raw power but his swing mechanics were considered to be very troublesome before this year. He reportedly cleaned up the swing in instructional league last fall and has certainly been much more effective this year, on pace for career highs in all offensive categories. He still strikes out a lot but has improved his batting eye and hasn't flailed as much against breaking pitches this year. He's also done a much better job using his speed on the bases.

It remains to be seen how Taylor will hit at the highest level; I doubt he's going to hit .300+ against major league pitching, at least not in the short run. But if he can hit .250, draw a few walks and continue to show some power, his speed and excellent defensive ability will make him a valuable regular. He draws inevitable comparisons to players with similar skill sets like Mike Cameron, Chris Young, and Drew Stubbs.