Aug. 2, 2011
For Athletics prospect Michael Taylor, it all came into prospective in first grade.
When most kids are asked what they want to be when they grow up, most kids will quickly yell: a doctor, a firefighter and a baseball player, right? Well, for former Stanford baseball player Michael Taylor’s surprise, he echoed one of those three choices and is on the verge of making the majors.
Taylor started playing the sport when he could still count his age on just his two hands.
“I played little league and thought “hey, why not?” said Taylor, who followed in the footsteps of a childhood friend who played baseball and soon found himself having fun, playing on his first official Little League team, the A’s.
Fitting, for the fifth round pick of the Phillies, who has played his last two Triple-A seasons for the Oakland Athletics.
Taylor moved beyond tiny uniforms and parent coaches, into more serious ball in middle school and high school in Apopka, Florida, a town roughly 15-miles northwest of Orlando. And when it came time for college, the East Coaster moved West to play at Stanford, where he said he had some of his fondest memories.
“It’s a unique place,” Taylor said, speaking of Stanford. “Its individuals, (you’re) not going to find anywhere else. Brilliant minds. It's very open and a fun-loving place. That was the best part about it. (Our teams) were good. We had a lot of ability and talent.”
My best friends are from the baseball team,” Taylor continued. “Trials and tribulations of trying to play a sport and achieve academically bonded us closer.”
The student-athlete enjoyed the game, yes, but did he believe that his time of having fun on the field from Little League to college would result in a professional career?
“I think it’s one of those weird things,” Taylor said. “You really don’t know what it takes or what that really means (to live out a dream). You dream about it, but things can bash those dreams.”
Out of Apopka High, he was never drafted, despite a prep All-American career. His first year in 2005, he hit just .289 despite playing everyday. He then took off, hitting .325 as a sophomore and .335 as a junior, hitting 12 home runs his junior year after hitting just nine his first two season. He also drove in 59 runs, finishing off a .319 career at Stanford.
“I’ve always taken it as a step-by-step thing. I've always thought I could. I just kept wearing my jersey.”
Taylor said playing baseball was all about having a good time, enjoying every day, every teammate and every challenge ahead.
“Everything else I can’t control. Not worrying about making it to the big leagues, just made me more focused on the game tomorrow.”
Sure Taylor was focused on his day-to-day games, but the 2007 Stanford graduate had his ups and downs. His first year in the New York-Penn League was a struggle. He hit just .227. He then took off, just like college, hitting .346 across two levels of the Phillies system in 2008, clobbering 19 homers and driving in 88. In 2009, he hit .320, reaching Triple-A with the Phillies for the final 30 games and hitting 20 homers with 84 RBIs and a .320 average overall.
He was then traded to the Blue Jays and then the A's in the off season, where he hit .272 for Triple-A Sacramento in 2010, a drop off of the previous two years.
After six minor league uniforms, Taylor is hitting .281 with 12 homers in 2011 and hopes for a call up with the young A's, just down the road in Oakland. Talk about full-circle.
“It’s a grind,” Taylor said, “But most careers are. You just try and enjoy as much as you can every single day.”
You go in with an open-mind and you really don’t know what it’s like. It’s hard to explain to anyone who hasn’t done it. It’s never anything like what you think it is going to be, from the outside. Until you live it, day-to-day, you really don’t know what it takes”