MLB.com Columnist

Bill Ladson

Taylor making big impression in camp

Despite hot spring, outfielder not in line for starting job

Taylor making big impression in camp

VIERA, Fla. -- Bryce Harper isn't the only one who's ripping the ball for the Nationals. Outfielder Michael Taylor is arguably the hottest hitter on the team.

In Thursday's 8-2 victory over the Cardinals, Taylor hit a home run and drove in four runs. Entering Friday's action against the Marlins, Taylor is 18-for-37 (.486), with four home runs and 13 RBIs.

"He is really doing some things. He has opened up everybody's eyes," teammate Max Scherzer said. "This is great about big league baseball. We brought in Ben Revere and it's only made Michael Taylor better. When you have competition around, you bring the best out of everybody. … [Taylor] is growing up in front of our eyes and he getting even better. It puts a smile on everybody's face."

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Taylor went into the season as the fourth outfielder, but the way he is hitting, he could be more than that. There is a case to be made that he should start over Jayson Werth in left field. There are others who feel that Taylor could platoon with Revere in center field. But as manager Dusty Baker put it, there isn't any controversy as far as who starts in left or center. For now, the positions belong to Werth and Revere, respectively.

"He has been playing his butt off," Baker said about Taylor. "Taylor and Ben have had great springs. They are doing what they are supposed to do. Ben is supposed to get on base and score runs. Michael has the capability of doing everything. But we are going to play three at a time, so isn't any quarterback controversy. It is what it is."

Harper called Taylor a special talent and enjoys watching his teammate on a regular basis. The two came up together in the Minor Leagues.

"He always had that power. The swing is getting better. He is getting better mentally," Harper said. "If he gets more at-bats, that's going to help him the most. He has a lot of speed, power and big-time talent. That power plays. It's a lot of fun to watch."

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.