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Michael Taylor Q&A

Michael Taylor is currently leading the Reading Phillies' offense and is near the top of the Eastern League in most stat categories (3rd in batting avg- .342, 3rd in HR- 14, tied for second in RBI- 55, 2nd in OPS.- .994, tied for 1st in runs scored- 49, tied for 1st in hits...). The 23 year old Taylor is 6 feet 6 inches tall and has quickly grabbed the attention of phans and media alike as a top prospect to watch. I spoke with Mike Taylor over the weekend, and here is that interview.

With all the big stats and being among the league leaders in so many categories, do you think you're ready for the next step?

It's kind of a difficult question.

Do you have anything left to prove here?

There's always something to prove. There's stuff to prove every game. I mean that's one thing that's very interesting about this game. It's such a numbers oriented game. You're only as good as your last "whatever statistical category that someone's valuing". There's so much talent, so much ability at every level, and there's always someone coming up behind you. So, you always have something to prove every day. You have to. If not, you're going to have a short career.

How has the coaching staff here with Reading helped you this year?

I had (manager) Steve Roadcap last year for half a season, so just being able to be familiar with him has been a big help. Especially, in addition to getting used to something completely new, a new level, a new set of challenges. So being able to know him, and him knowing me as a player and for him to be able to watch me play every day and tell me some of the things I do well, and also help me make adjustments is a plus. And Frank Cacciatore is probably one of the hardest working hitting coaches in all of professional baseball. He has a good eye for what you're trying to do and you can get with him (about) what your plan is and he'll watch you and maybe if you're off course, he'll give you little reminders. I had (pitching coach) Steve Schrenk last year in the Florida State League and he's a good guy also because he's got 16 years of pro baseball, so he's got a pitching perspective that you might not get otherwise, or with another organization. So it's nice to have a bunch of different guys.

So Schrenk helps the hitters in addition to the pitchers?

Oh, for sure. He can tell you what the pitcher's thinking and what he might try to do to you. I think that's another resource, as a hitter, if you're not using, then you're not using everything you've got.

Is there any specific part of your game that you are still working on improving at this stage?

Everything. I mean, that answer sounds cliche, but I think once you're a 10-year vet, established in the big leagues, even at that point you're still working on stuff. I've got to get better in every facet.

There have been plenty of people describing you as a 5-tool player. How do you describe yourself or your game?

I think five-tool is the baseball terminology, but I just try to describe myself as pretty complete. I can help in a lot of different ways. Whether it be throwing guys out, or making a good play in the outfield, or stealing a bag or hopefully driving the ball or getting in position to drive in runs, that's really the goal for me every day.

Who has been your biggest influence coming up into pro ball?

Aw, man, that's- there's probably way too many guys to name just one. With the Phillies- he was the hitting coach when they won the World Championship in the 80's- Billy Demars. He was Pete Rose's personal guy, he really got with me a lot in spring training and he's been a big influence on me, with my swing and with my simplistic approach today, so I have to give him a lot of credit.

Can I get you to talk about when you were drafted? How did you find out, your reactions, who were you with...?

I was by myself, in my dorm room. I was still in school. I had finals coming up, I was trying to study. It was during a time that was a little hectic. I went on a work out-scout tour. I went to Kansas City, I went to Philadelphia and worked out for the Phillies in Citizens Bank Park. I flew to Lakeland and worked out for the Tigers in their spring training complex. I did all that in about 4 or 5 days. That was really interesting and tough, but it was a great experience. It was tough because where I was going to go was such a wide range of possibilities. I was sitting there after the first couple rounds, eyes wide open, hoping that my name was going to be next and I ended up getting picked in a fair spot (5th round) by the Phillies.

Were you watching the draft online that day (ancient days, before MLB Network)?

Yeah, I had the little draft tracker up. It was just going in my room. I watched a little, the first 15 picks of the first round. I had a little interest, obviously knowing a lot of the guys who went high. And after that, it took so long, you had to get a move on with your life, but I watched a lot more starting around the third round, 'cause that's when I thought I had an opportunity to possibly get (selected). And then it was getting down to the wire, and I was one of the last picks on the first day. I was really nervous towards the end, but luckily it worked out.

If you could face any pitcher in baseball right now, who would you pick?

If I could face any pitcher in baseball? You know, right now, who I'm really interested to see? A guy like Roy Halladay, a guy who's been on top of his game. You hear a lot of good things about him. So, it would be fun to say you faced a Roy Halladay or an AJ Burnett or a CC Sabathia. One of these guys who are paid very, very high to be one of the best pitchers in the league.

The Civil Rights game was played earlier in the week between the Reds and White Sox. Can I get you to talk about how you feel about MLB's efforts to reach out to the black community and their attempts to draw new interest?

I definitely think they're trying and there's a thin line between trying to reach out and forcing people to play. I mean, you can't make people play. And I think as long as there's a fair opportunity out there, I know they're trying to get into the inner cities with the RBI program and what not. I think these things go through lulls and a lot of the African American community, as far as sports is concerned, is focused on basketball and football. Especially in the city where basketball's easy to play. Socio-economically, it's pretty cheap to play...all you need is a basketball and a court. I know, growing up playing baseball, it's not a cheap thing to play. There's a lot of travel involved, just bats and gloves and things alone are just so expensive. Just to field that many players and have that much free time, it's a tough game to get, maybe, the lower socio-economic class. Those are some of the problems, but at the end of the day I think baseball's trying to reach out and at least have the opportunities there. Really what you want to ask for is that there's opportunities if someone out there would like to pursue (baseball). I haven't done a whole lot of research, but I know there's an RBI program and at least they're making some effort.

The Phillies have Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins as guys baseball has seemed to use to reach out in those efforts. As you come up, and when you come up, is that something you would welcome...being used to market baseball towards the black community?

Yeah, I think in the right situation, sure! Any time you can market something positive, I think I'd definitely be for it. Baseball's done a lot for me in my life. And not just my success to this point, and an opportunity to make money, but being able to go to school and the people I've met...the discipline it's taken just to play this game and go to school and do all these different things have all enriched my life and made me a better person. So, I mean, just from that stand point, baseball is unique in that it's one of those things that's very failure oriented. And if you can deal with being a baseball player, and still have joy and happiness in your life, outside of results, outside of the game, I feel like you have chance to be successful in all areas of your life.

And lastly, what is your favorite Michael Jackson song?

There were a lot of good ones. Billy Jean. I love Billy Jean. I love the video, I love the song. Billy Jean, I think that's my favorite Michael Jackson song.

BallHype: hype it up!


Jay Floyd said…
Yohan Flande was with the Reading Phils in Trenton on Sunday.

He does not speak the English.
Anonymous said…
This is real good.


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