Michael Taylor informed the Chicago White Sox that he was retiring from baseball, the club announced on Tuesday. Taylor had been a non-roster invitee to the White Sox's big league camp. He was replaced on the non-roster list by Engel Beltre.
Taylor spent the second half of last season in the White Sox's chain, spending September with the big league club. Before that, Taylor spent four-and-a-half seasons as a prospect in the Oakland A's chain. The Stanford alum was a fifth-round pick in 2007 of the Philadelphia Phillies. Taylor came to the A's in an off-season deal before the 2010 season in exchange for (at the time) fellow top prospect Brett Wallace.
At the time Taylor joined the A's, he was one of the top outfield prospects in baseball. The 6'5'' right-handed hitter posted a 944 OPS in a season split between Double-A Reading and Triple-A Lehigh Valley in the Phillies' chain in 2009. He was immediately the A's top prospect upon joining the organization and was expected to be the team's future right fielder.
Taylor had a disappointing debut season with the A's at the Triple-A level. He hit .272 but managed just a 740 OPS. Nevertheless, he was added to the A's 40-man roster that off-season. The next season, Taylor was hampered early in the year by a wrist injury. He missed the first six weeks of the season, but once he was healthy, he put together a strong season. Taylor posted an 816 OPS in 93 Triple-A games with 16 homeruns. He made his major-league debut that September. In 11 games with the A's that month, Taylor collected six hits in 35 at-bats, including what would end up being his only MLB homerun.
Going into that off-season, it looked like Taylor would have a legitimate chance at being the A's starting right-fielder on Opening Day 2012. The A's let outfielders Josh Willingham and David DeJesus go via free agency and Coco Crisp was expected to leave as a free agent, as well. Instead, the A's re-signed Crisp in a surprise move and added outfielders Yoenis Cespedes, Jonny Gomes and Josh Reddick via trades and free agent signings.
Taylor returned to Triple-A for the majority of the 2012 season. He continued to play well at that level, posting an 846 OPS in 120 games. Taylor's on-base percentage was .405 that season. Despite that strong number, he appeared in just six games with the A's in 2012, collecting three hits in 21 at-bats.
It was more of the same for Taylor in 2013. He had an 833 OPS in 112 games in Triple-A and picked up 18 homeruns, his highest total since 2009. It wasn't enough to earn him significant playing time with Oakland, however. He appeared in just nine big league games and had one hit in 23 at-bats.
Taylor entered spring training in 2014 knowing that it would likely be his last as part of the A's organization. He was out of options and the A's entered last year with a full outfield. Taylor finished second on the team in at-bats during spring training, and he played well. Taylor collected 17 hits in 62 at-bats (.274 BA) and nine of those hits went for extra-bases. Not surprisingly, Taylor was left off of the A's Opening Day roster. What was surprising was that he went through waivers unclaimed, returning to the A's as a non-roster, Triple-A player.
Taylor spent the first half of 2014 in Triple-A with the A's, but his disappointment with not being picked up by another organization was evident. He hit .243 with a 742 OPS in 59 games before the A's traded him to the Chicago White Sox for right-hander Jake Sanchez. Once with Triple-A Charlotte, a rejuvenated Taylor hit .306/.386/.489 in 64 games. He earned a September call-up with the White Sox and appeared in 11 games, collecting seven hits in 28 at-bats with Chicago.
That off-season, the White Sox removed Taylor from their 40-man roster, but they brought him back on a minor league deal with an invitation to big league spring training. He was 0-for-7 in four games thus far this spring. Taylor retires with a .290 career average, 108 homeruns and an 840 OPS in 889 minor league games.
Taylor will have plenty of options for a post-baseball career. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Political Science from Stanford and had an internship with Bay Area radio station KNBR, among other non-baseball work experience. He is a charismatic speaker and was a popular figure during his nearly five years in Sacramento. Taylor was a guest writer for OaklandClubhouse in 2010 (to read his articles, click here).
At OaklandClubhouse, we wish Michael all the best with his next career.