UPDATE, 3;30 a.m.: Jayson Werth pinch hit in the 11th inning of Saturday’s 11-inning win and Steven Souza Jr. pinch ran for him. Werth, who has been dealing with nagging shoulder and ankle injuries, drew a walk. Werth had been scratched just before Saturday’s game. That both players appeared in the game cast doubt on prospect Michael A. Taylor’s expected trip to Atlanta to join the Nationals.
“He’s still a little sore,” Manager Matt Williams said of Werth after the game. “We decided to get him out of there [Saturday]. I think he’ll be OK for [Sunday]. Certainly the pinch-hit appearance [Saturday] dictates that he’ll be OK [Sunday]. But needed a little extra work and he took the game to do that.”
Souza, on the other hand, was well enough to pinch run, Williams said, after jamming his left shoulder in a collision with the right field wall on Friday.
“Jayson’s in a situation today where we can use him to take a swing but we don’t want to push him too hard,” Williams said. “So we decided to get Souz in there to run for him just in case a ball got in the gap.”
Taylor was scratched from Saturday’s Class AAA Syracuse but not because of injury. Taylor was expected to join the Nationals in Atlanta but his availability was unclear. In the past, players have been brought to the stadium as insurance for injury but not activated, as it happened to Xavier Cedeno earlier this season. It is immediately unclear if Taylor will be needed on Sunday. More to come later.
ORIGINAL, 11:38 p.m.: With two Nationals outfielders dealing with injuries, hot-hitting outfield prospect Michael A. Taylor is expected to join the Nationals in Atlanta on Sunday, according to a person familiar with the decision. Taylor was a late scratch from Class AAA Syracuse’s Saturday game.
It’s unclear whose active roster spot Taylor will be taking. Jayson Werth missed Friday’s game and was scratched from Saturday’s game. He’s been playing with a sprained right ankle since July 28 and a bothersome right shoulder for about a week. Steven Souza Jr., who started in Werth’s place on Friday, collided with the right field wall at Turner Field and jammed his left shoulder and said he was feeling better. Werth has been playing with his injuries longer, hobbled during one groundout earlier this week and could perhaps use the rest most.
Taylor, 23, is rated by MLB.com as the Nationals’ top outfield prospect and enjoying a breakout season. The 23-year-old outfielder was invited to big league spring training this year and took off at Class AA Harrisburg. With the Senators, he hit .313/.396/.539 with 22 home runs and 34 stolen bases. Although he struck out 130 times, he hit the ball hard and for considerable power.
He was promoted to Syracuse last week when Souza was called up to majors with Nate McLouth landing on the disabled list. In four games with Syracuse, Taylor went 5 for 13 with three doubles and four walks.
Taylor’s call-up was first reported by CSNWashington.com. It is unclear, however, if Taylor will be active for Sunday’s game.
The Nationals were waiting for Taylor’s bat to catch up to his standout defense and it did this season. He was selected as a shortstop in the sixth round of the 2009 draft and converted to the outfield in 2011. Taylor has exceptional speed, a good feel for jumps and a strong arm. Nationals Manager Matt Williams rated Taylor as an 80 defender on the 20 to 80 scouting scale in spring training. Talent evaluators have said Taylor could step into a major league game today and play strong defense.