Tuned Up Swing Makes Taylor A Hit

In 2007, Michael Taylor didn't really show enough on the field to make believers out of anybody who was unfamiliar with his potential. He looked like a big kid, who was just sort of lost at times and going through the motions at others. The truth is, that he was a little lost at times, but was never just going through the motions.

Michael Taylor came to the Phillies in the fifth round of the 2007 Draft out of Stanford University and was counted on to show power and big offensive numbers for the Williamsport Crosscutters. While he showed some power potential - 6 home runs in 233 at bats - the jury remained out on the rest of his offensive potential since he was able to muster just a .227 average. Turn the page to 2008 and things are much different for Michael Taylor, not just in the numbers, but in his approach to hitting.

"We worked with Michael to cut down his swing a little and just generate natural power rather than having him just muscle everything out of the park," explained Steve Noworyta, the Phillies Minor League Director. Those simple changes have Taylor looking more relaxed at the plate and have him hitting more than 100 points higher this season as he stands at .351 through the first 41 games at Lakewood. He's also hit seven home runs (one more than all of last season) in 80 less at bats than he had with Williamsport. "In the end, there wasn't really that much to do with him," said Noworyta. "He's got pure talent and there is plenty of power there, so it was more of a matter of just getting him to relax a little and shorten up his swing a little. And to his credit, he worked hard to be a better player and it's paying off."

When you consider all the facets of his game, Taylor has the potential to be somewhat of a monster for the Phillies. He hasn't made an error all season, playing in both left and right field and he's swiped five bases, which isn't a huge number, but certainly isn't bad for a guy his size (6' 6", 250 pounds). He's also got decent plate discipline and will generally put his bat on the ball and make things happen. While some are quick to call him a right-handed Ryan Howard, Noworyta cautions against comparisons. "Ryan's a special hitter, which isn't to say that Michael isn't, but especially when it comes to young players, it's tough to make those comparisons. Michael is Michael and he's going to do what Michael Taylor can do and he doesn't have to worry about Ryan Howard or anybody else, for that matter, because he's got enough potential to make a name for himself," said Noworyta. Taylor has heard the comparisons since before being drafted and also doesn't try to pay too much attention to them. "It's nice and it's kind of weird, because I was hearing that before I was drafted and when the Phillies picked me, it really picked up, but you can't get too wrapped up in that," Taylor told Philly Baseball News in an earlier interview.

Scouts first noticed Taylor when they were scouting one of his high school teammates, Zach Greinke, who was drafted in the first round of the 2002 Draft by the Kansas City Royals. While a lot of the scouts liked Taylor, they felt he definitely needed to show what he could do at the college level and they steered their respective teams away from him out of high school, leaving him to head for Stanford. Even in college, some scouts had doubts about his long-term ability and some thought he would be too much of a home run or strikeout type hitter and he fell on draft boards to where the Phillies could grab him in the fifth round. It's ironically the same kind of fall that Howard took when he was drafted out of Southwest Missouri State.

With all the comparisons aside, Taylor truly does appear to have the tools to be a special type of player. For his part, Noworyta likes Taylor's attitude and thinks that's one reason why he'll succeed. "He's a mature kid who doesn't shy away from coaching or hard work. A guy like that with his raw talent can do well," believes Noworyta.

Michael Taylor's career stats

YEAR/TEAM HR RBI AVG G AB R H 2B 3B SB BB KO OBP SLG
2007 Williamsport 6 33 .227 66 233 30 53 14 0 8 23 53 .300 .365
2008 Lakewood 7 30 .351 41 154 25 54 8 2 5 15 32 .420 .565
TOTALS 13 63 .276 107 387 55 107 22 2 13 38 85 .348 .444

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