31-10-12 18:04 Age: 231 days
MICHAEL TAYLOR: AWAITING MY SHOT AT THE MAJORS
Category: Top Stories
The A's Prospect Describes What It's Like Being One Step Away From The Big Stage
Michael Taylor scoffs at the notion that he was always the "can't miss" prospect.
"Expectations are always high for everyone at this level," Taylor, an Oakland Athletic hopeful, recently told Junior Baseball. "When I was first signed and hit .227 in short season, nobody said anything. When I hit .340, I was a good prospect. When I followed that by hitting .330, I was a can't-miss prospect. Everything is relative to the season you just had.
"Do your numbers match other's expectations? Honestly, my expectations are higher than those anyone else has."
Taylor, 26, spent most of the 2011 season at Class AAA Sacramento where he hit .272 with 16 home runs and 64 RBIs. In a late season call-up, he collected six hits in 30 at-bats with his first Major League Baseball home run. He entered the off-season as a candidate for a starting position in the A's outfield in 2012 after David DeJesus and Josh Willingham left as free agents.
That outfield became crowded when Oakland obtained Josh Reddick and Seth Smith in trades, and signed Yoenis Cespedes and Jonny Gomes, many of whom has solid years. So was Taylor disappointed?
"I am not going to lie and say I was happy (when the trades were made)," said Taylor, who got called up in early May this year but was sent back down to Triple A after a week. "At the same time, you can't worry about what happens that you cannot control. At the end of the day, you understand the business aspect of baseball. You realize you are a commodity. As soon as you realize it, you understand what happens in baseball."
The strapping 6-foot, 5-inch athlete says this without a twinge of hurt in his voice. He has no anger toward the A's, just as he doesn't feel any malice toward the Philadelphia Phillies who signed him and traded him before he reached the major leagues. Taylor stays upbeat and tries to be the best player he can be. He understands the differences of playing baseball as a youth and now trying to make a living from it.
"Once you start playing baseball for a living, it becomes your job," Taylor says. "Life is difficult as an adult. Not everything is going to work out how you expect it."
To those who are playing in school, Taylor offers one important piece of advice - "enjoy it while you're young. As a kid, you are playing baseball for fun. When you are 13 or 14 years old in school, the world is your oyster. You make mistakes but you are still sheltered and have teammates that will help protect you. That changes when you are a pro."
After high school in Apopka, Fla., Stanford University recruited Taylor. To have attended Stanford - he signed his first professional contract 15 hours short of a political science degree - will always be his greatest personal achievement, he says.
"Attending Stanford was easily the best decision I ever made," says Taylor, who intends to earn his degree once his playing days are finished. "I turned down a lot of money to go to Stanford."
There are those that say it stunted his growth professionally as well. At Stanford, contact hitting and not striking out is preached. Thus, some scouts say that the school does not produce power hitters. John Mayberry, Jr., is another Stanford product that didn't begin to hit for power until he reached his mid-20s. Interestingly, Mayberry and Taylor were teammates as Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs, the Class AAA team of the Philadelphia Phillies organization.
Taylor keeps it all in perspective. He prepared himself mentally for starting the season back in Sacramento, which is what happened. He credits his parents, Dave and Sheryl, for instilling priorities into his life.
"I am 26. In the baseball world that is getting old and the critical years," says Taylor, who was born in Maryland but grew up in central Florida where played against fellow Oakland A's second baseman Jemile Weeks in high school. "I am still trying to find whether I will get a chance to play (on a consistent basis) in the big leagues. We'll see.
"I may have to go and play at the Triple-A level again. What you need to do is make yourself relevant. You need to relax, play and let your talents come out. All I can do is work my butt off and see where the chips fall.
"From my perspective, I am lucky. To get to swing the bat for a living is a dream come true. To sign autographs and talk to youngsters or an adult and to be able to make their day is a blessing."
Taylor provided 5 tips for how to handle being a top prospect in the system.
TO READ MICHAEL TAYLOR'S 5 TIPS FOR HOT PROSPECTS, PICK UP A COPY OF THE SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2012 ISSUE OF JUNIOR BASEBALL. CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE NOW.