Right fielder Michael Taylor has worked very hard the past year to improve his plate discipline, his approach and his swing control. This season, the high Single-A Potomac outfielder keeps building on that knowledge with experience to get into the best groove of his career.
Nationals director of player development Doug Harris said Taylor "made an adjustment in his approach right around the break that is starting to pay off."
The numbers don't lie.
Taylor went 4-for-4 Wednesday night in Potomac's 2-1 win over Lynchburg in the series opener at Woodbridge, Va. Taylor drove in the go-ahead run.
That performance added to a 12-for-20 (.600) clip he has enjoyed over the past five games, including 7-for-9 in his most recent two games. Taylor has four doubles, a home run and eight RBIs since July 12.
Taylor's swing and approach are complicated, like every player's mechanics, but in the broadest terms, "he made a big adjustment with his lower half (of his body), which allows him to track the ball better and be more consistent with his path to the ball," Harris said.
Potomac Nationals hitting coach Mark Harris spoke about how they were focusing early in the season on Taylor's approach, on an ability to slow things down as he approaches the box and working on preventing the pitcher from dictating the tempo of each at-bat.
Now, it is more specific. He has started to get a nice handle on the timing of each at-bat. The physical mechanics are the focus.
"He is right now," Mark Harris said. "(I am) liking the knee pinch. He is giving himself a chance."
Mark Harris breaks down the mechanics of Taylor's motion that buys him some time to see the pitch better before deciding on swing and location.
"First move is a slight gather by taking front knee back inside the ball of his foot. It gives him some recognition time and keeps him from jumping out with first move," he detailed.
Mark Harris said the preparation, setup and swing are reminiscent of the mechanics of Torii Hunter, the Detroit Tigers' 17-year veteran All-Star right fielder.
That is some kind of company.
Mark Harris said the goal is to be "consistent, getting (Taylor's swing) to the same position every time."
The result has been a surge at the plate for Taylor, building confidence coming off last season and some struggles.
Overall, Taylor's numbers have reached .272 in 88 games with 26 doubles, four triples, seven homers and 57 RBIs with 29 stolen bases. He hit .242 in 109 games last season. His run the last 10 games has reached a .400 average, totaling 16 hits, and his on-base percentage has reached .435, with four walks and only eight strikeouts in 40 at-bats.
It will be exciting to see if Taylor can continue this roll into August as Potomac looks to surge to the second-half division crown. They already hold the first-half championship.