After he went 3 for 3 with a double, home run and single in yesterday's 11-7 win over the Miami Marlins in Space Coast Stadium, 24-year-old Washington Nationals' center fielder Michael Taylor was 17 for 50 overall this Spring with a .340/.365/.740 line, four doubles, two triples, four home runs, two walks and 12 Ks in 16 games.
After one at bat today, Taylor was up to 18 for 51 (.353) with five doubles in Grapefruit League action, as he lined a two-base hit to left field off St. Louis Cardinals' starter Michael Wacha. Taylor was eventually stranded at the end of a quick, scoreless first by the Cards' right-hander, but the Nationals' '09 6th Round pick out of the Westminster Academy in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida continues to impress as Opening day approaches.
FOXSports.com's Jon Morosi tweeted yesterday that he liked what he saw from Taylor:
Denard Span's injury caused me a lot of concern about Nats outfield, but CF Michael Taylor has been very impressive this spring.— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) March 29, 2015
Taylor debuted in the majors last August, homering in Citi Field in his first game and going 8 for 39 with three doubles, the home run, three walks and 17 Ks in 43 plate appearances.
The plus defender in center started his breakout campaign at Double-A Harrisburg, made a quick stop at Triple-A Syracuse and then came up to the big leagues after putting up a combined .304/.390/.526 line, 20 doubles, three triples, 23 HRs, 37 stolen bases, 57 walks and 144 Ks in 110 games and 493 PAs between the Senators (441 PAs) and Chiefs (52).
Though the Nationals planned on having Denard Span in center and at the top of the order on Opening Day, the 31-year-old outfielder is still working his way back from his second surgery of the Spring (sports hernia + core muscle injury).
Nats' GM Mike Rizzo told MLB Network Radio hosts Jim Bowden and Casey Stern last week that he was comfortable running Taylor out there every day until Span is ready to return.
"Michael is a young offensive player in the league," Rizzo explained. "He'll be exposed at times with pitchers that really know how to carve up young hitters, but he's a guy that has explosive talent and a guy that until Denard is ready, it's Michael Taylor time."
At bat no.2 this afternoon for Taylor came in the second, with runners on the corners and two out. Taylor started up 2-0 on Wacha, who struggled with his command, but grounded into a force at second to end the threat.
The Nats did score their first run of the game in the second, however, with Ian Stewart scoring from third base on a single by starter Taylor Jordan after Stewart doubled his way on and moved to second on a walk by Jose Lobaton.
Dan Uggla put the Nationals up 2-0 when he doubled to start the Nats' third and scored on an RBI single by Ryan Zimmerman.
Taylor Jordan was up to 21 pitches when he took the mound in the bottom of the third and 31 pitches after back-to-back walks to Mark Reynolds and Kolten Wong. Michael Wacha bunted both runners into scoring position/gave up an out, and Reynolds scored the Cards' first run of the game on a groundout by Matt Carpenter, 2-1 Nats.
Jordan's third walk of the third, a two-out free pass to Jason Heyward, put runners on the corners with two out and pushed him up to 39 pitches overall. An error by Ian Stewart on a grounder to third by Matt Holliday let the Cards' second run score, 2-2.
Jordan was up to 44 pitches after Jhonny Peralta lined out to a diving Michael Taylor in center field to end the third, and 50 pitches total after bouncing back with a quick, six-pitch, 1-2-3 fourth.
Taylor Jordan's Line: 4.0 IP, 1 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 0 K, 0 HR, 52 P, 33 S7/4 GO/SO.
The Cardinals scored two runs to take a 4-2 lead when Matt Holliday hit a two-out double to center off Xavier Cedeno in the bottom of the fifth.
Drew Storen was up to 21 pitches after a two-out walk to Kolten Wong in the Cardinals' sixth when he was visited on the mound by the Nationals' trainer. Storen left the game there. No word on what the issue was. Will update...
Peter Bourjos, who took over as a pinch runner for Jon Jay after Jay reached on an error, scored on an RBI single by Pete "[Expletive Deleted]" Kozma with Matt Grace on the mound. 5-2 St. Louis.
Blake Treinen needed 27 pitches to get through the seventh, after he gave up a one-out double, a two-out walk and an RBI single by Bourjos. 6-2 Cardinals.
That's how it ended... but before it did... Blevins? What?