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After he was unable to acquire a center fielder before the non-waiver Trade Deadline, general manager Mike Rizzo said that the Nationals have a player who will be their center fielder of the future.While he didn't name the player, the person that Rizzo was referring to was Michael Taylor, a sixth-round pick in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft. Taylor, the best defensive center fielder in the farm system, played for Class A Hagerstown this past season, hitting .253 with 13 home runs and 68 RBIs.
After hitting .214 before the All-Star break, Taylor hit .291 with a .351 on-base percentage during the second half of the season. Taylor said that the biggest change was being relaxed at the plate. "In the first half I was a little anxious, trying to do too much," Taylor said. "Once I kind of let go of those things and just relaxed, it really helped me."
"He was a shortstop and not very good," Corrales said. "The decision was made to put him in the outfield, and he took to it just like you wouldn't believe. He has outstanding range -- going back, going in, going to the sides. Now he is starting to believe he can hit. Michael Taylor is going to be a good baseball player. He is a fine young man.
7. Michael Taylor, OFDOB: 3/26/91Height/Weight: 6-2/190Bats/Throws: R/RDrafted/Signed: 6th round, 2009, Westminster Academy (FL)2011 Stats: .253/.310/.432 at Single-A (126 G)Tools Profile: Yes, many of them.Year in Review: Athletic outfielder made improvements throughout the season.The Good: Taylor's tools are loud. He's an impressive athlete with above-average speed and plenty of raw power. Drafted as an infielder, Taylor made progress in the outfield and projects to be an above-average defender with a plus arm. His improvements at the plate were even more noticeable, as he hit .291/.351/.498 after the All-Star break.The Bad: Taylor has trouble against right-handed pitching, and his approach does him no favors as his impatience leads to pitchers expanding his strike zone and getting him to chase. Strikeouts will always be a part of his game, as his swing can get unhinged at times, and there are questions about his pure hitting ability. His arm is strong, but he often misses his mark.Ephemera: Three of Taylor's seven triples in 2011, as well as five of his 11 home runs, came in the fifth inning of games, as hit hit .316/.355/.719 in 57 at-bats.Perfect World Projection: All-Star center fielder.Fantasy Impact: If every tool actualizes, he'll be an impact performer. It's important to note that this almost never happens.Path to the Big Leagues: A full-season of performance like Taylor's second half could make him a Top 101 prospect a year from now. He'll begin 2012 at High-A Potomac.ETA: 2015
Taylor earns his first Hitter of the Week award in his professional baseball career batting .483 (14-for-29) over seven games. Of those 14 hits, eight of them came in consecutive plate appearances over the weekend against the Myrtle Beach Pelicans. Taylor also hit his first three home runs of the season including a grand slam, the first by a P-Nat in 2012. For the week, Taylor scored 13 times and drove in eight runs while slugging .931.Taylor, 21, is hitting .245 on the year and his third in the Carolina League with 29 doubles. The speedy centerfielder also shares the team lead with 44 runs and ranks in a tie for third with 15 stolen bases through 100 games.
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