Phillies Prospect #9: Michael Taylor

Michael Taylor didn't show anything too special in his first pro season in 2007, but last season, he showed fans what they can expect from him.

Acquired: Drafted by the Phillies in the fifth round of the 2007 Draft.
Bats: R  Throws: R
Height: 6' 6"  Weight: 250 pounds
Birth Date: December 19, 1985
2008 Team(s): Lakewood (67 G), Clearwater (65 G)
Positions/Games: LF (92 G), RF (26 G)
School: Stanford University
2008 Ranking: 55

Why Taylor jumped to #9: Michael Taylor made a big jump up the prospect list and it's because he showed great progress on the field. The 2007 fifth round draft pick didn't have much of an opportunity to show much at Williamsport in 2007, but was moved along to Lakewood to start the 2008 season and simply started to pound the ball. By the time Father's Day hit, the Phillies were looking for another challenge for Taylor, who was promoted to Clearwater and didn't miss a beat. Taylor hit a combined 19-88-.345 between his two assignments and put himself squarely on the prospect radar.

Category Michael Taylor Florida State League
AB/2B 9.00 20.57
AB/3B 243.00 139.26
AB/HR 27.00 52.95
AB/RBI 6.39 8.51
AB/R 6.75 7.79
AB/BB 12.79 10.15
AB/KO 5.28 4.74
AVG .329 .256
OBP .380 .329
SLG .560 .376
Categories with numbers in white show areas where Taylor outperformed the average player in the Florida State League during the 2008 season. Categories with numbers in black show areas where he was below the league average.

Batting and Power: When the Phillies drafted Taylor, he still had some lingering holes in his swing and they immediately set out to close those holes as quickly as possible. Taylor, who loves to work on his game, took to the changes well and showed immediate improvement at the plate. He led the Phillies minor league system in average, hits, total bases, doubles and RBI and was twice the Phillies' minor league player of the month. Taylor has raw and natural power and by fixing his mechanics, the Phillies were able to harness that power. Now, Taylor has become the type of hitter who can hit the ball out to all parts of the field and he should be able to do more than just hit for power; he should be able to hit for average. 

Baserunning and Speed: Taylor has slightly above average speed and stole a total of 15 bases last season. He's smart enough to pick his spots and has the natural instincts that good base runners have and he puts them to use. He'll likely continue to improve on his base stealing and base running techniques with the proper coaching and become even better in those areas.

Defense: Michael Taylor doesn't have an arm - he's got a gun. He had 18 assists from the outfield last season, playing primarily in left field. Defensively, he can play either of the corner outfield spots, but isn't suited for playing in center field. He's above average defensively and with his ability to throw, runners won't be able to take advantage of him very often.

Projection: After seeing the improvement in Taylor last season even in the short time since he was drafted, Taylor has put himself among the best in the organization. He will still have adjustments to make as he hits the higher levels, but he has the talent to conquer those levels and anything that he may lack will be made up by the hard work that he puts into his game. With his power and projectable ability to hit for a high average, Taylor figures to be a middle-of-the-lineup hitter down the road.

ETA: The Phillies will have a decision to make on Taylor. Are 243 at bats at the High-A level enough for Taylor or should they let him hang around in Clearwater for part of the 2009 season. By all reports, he's ready to challenge himself with a trip to Double-A Reading and if he doesn't start the season there, he'll likely be there before too long. He could be on the depth chart for the majors by the spring of 2011 if all continues to go as it has in the early going for Taylor.

Comparison: Taylor could become the type of player that Phillies fans saw in Jayson Werth last season, but with not quite as much speed. Once he settles in, Taylor should average right around the 24 home runs that Werth launched last season and should easily be able to hit in the .273 range that Werth was in last season. He also figures to be able to drive in a few more runs than Werth.

Michael Taylor's career stats

2007 Williamsport 6 33 .227 66 233 30 53 14 0 8 23 53 .300 .365
2008 Lakewood 10 50 .361 67 249 40 90 12 3 10 31 43 .441 .554
2008 Clearwater 9 38 .329 65 243 36 80 27 1 5 19 46 .380 .560
TOTALS 25 121 .308 198 725 106 223 53 4 23 73 142 .376 .495

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