Bill Ladson

Nats prospect Taylor excited for big league callup

Nats prospect Taylor excited for big league callup

ATLANTA -- With Steven Souza Jr. on the 15-day disabled list because of a left shoulder contusion, the Nationals recalled outfielder Michael Taylor on Sunday.

Taylor, 23, is considered by to be the third-best prospect in the Nationals' farm system. He is having the best season of his professional career, hitting a combined .315 with 22 home runs and 63 RBIs for Double A-Harrisburg and Triple-A Syracuse.

Taylor knew something was up when he was scratched from Saturday's game against Louisville. At first, Syracuse manager Billy Gardner Jr. told him that he wasn't playing because he didn't try hard enough to first base on a ground ball.

Later that day, however, Gardner told Taylor he was joking and Taylor was informed about his promotion. Taylor immediately called his parents. They weren't able to make the trip to Atlanta, but he hopes they can watch him play in person in the not-so-distant future.

During his first four years in professional baseball, Taylor had a hard time hitting with consistency, but turned things around this year. Taylor said it helped that he played winter ball in Puerto Rico. He started making adjustments with his approach at the plate, and long slumps are thus far a thing of the past.

"I just went out there and had a good approach," Taylor said. "I tried to be consistent with everything I did, and I had success this year. A lot of good things happened this year. I'm grateful for the opportunity of being in the Major Leagues and going to the Futures Game. ... This year has been very exciting for me."

Selected as a shortstop by Washington in the sixth round of the 2009 First-Year Player Draft, Taylor shifted to the outfield in 2011, and in nearly four seasons patrolling primarily center field, he has earned a reputation as an elite defender.

Projections indicate Taylor could be the starting center fielder for the Nationals as early as 2015. With Jayson Werth dealing with shoulder problems, Taylor most likely will be a defensive replacement in the late innings. Taylor also will be get an occasional start if manager Matt Williams decides to give Denard Span a day off.

"Mike can play all three positions," Williams said. "That gives us an opportunity to move Bryce [Harper] around sometimes, too. That's how I envision it."

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