After a furious Friday of hot stove action, the baseball world is now taking holiday break. That includes the winter leagues, where several Nationals have been playing.
Atop that list, of course, is Michael A. Taylor, who has been in the Dominican Republic putting some swing changes into practice in an attempt to come to spring training a new hitter.
Taylor isn’t off to a great start. In seven games so far for Gigantes del Cibao, he’s batting just .143 (4-for-28) with one double, two RBIs, one walk and nine strikeouts.
Obviously it’s a small sample, and Taylor has plenty of time to right his ship before the end of the winter season, but the Nationals are watching him closely to see signs of progress.
Club officials aren’t concerned with the 27-year-old outfielder’s stats as much as his approach at the plate. The 9-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio, unfortunately, isn’t a real encouraging sign.
“His raw power is there,” general manager Mike Rizzo said last week at the Winter Meetings. “He just needs to put the bat on the ball more often. The power numbers will be there. You’re talking (about) a guy who has extreme power to the opposite field, and he can hit ‘em as far as anybody. The power has never held him back; it’s not anything that we worry about. It’s getting to the power. ... The hit tool, utilizing it to get to the power. If he can do that, improve on that, it’s going to make a big difference in his game.”
Taylor is the most notable Nationals big leaguer playing in the Dominican this winter, but he’s not alone. Relievers Wander Suero (three scoreless appearances for Licey) and Jimmy Cordero (one run in 3 2/3 innings for Escogido) have pitched well in limited action.
Top prospect Victor Robles saw considerable early action for Aguilas, hitting .265 with a .345 on-base percentage in 25 games, but stopped playing in late November to give his body a rest.