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CF Reggie Taylor "Have Glove will Travel"

Eddie Altamonte

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http://local.lancasteronline.com/4/200307

LancasterOnline.com
As spring training nears, Taylor?s still unemployed
Barnstormers star is frustrated that his Atlantic League success hasn't led to an invitation to training camp from an affiliated squad.

By JASON GUARENTE
Lancaster New Era

Published: Feb 01, 2007 1:04 PM EST

LANCASTER COUNTY, PA - It's two weeks until pitchers and catchers report to spring training and Reggie Taylor is still unemployed.

What he thought was a brief departure from affiliated baseball has turned into a long-term exile.

Taylor is having a hard time understanding it.

"It's tough," he said. "All I can do is sit back and be more patient."

Ten months ago Taylor was on the cusp of making the Detroit Tigers' big-league roster. The 6-1, 190-pound outfielder was released shortly before the team broke camp. He hasn't worn an affiliated uniform since.

Taylor came to the Lancaster Barnstormers in April and put together a fine year. He batted .302 with 23 homers and 77 RBIs in 115 games. His on-base percentage was .395. His slugging percentage was .553.

Once the Atlantic League season ended with the Barnstormers winning the championship in October, Taylor went to Puerto Rico for winter ball. He put up decent numbers there, hitting .249 with nine homers and 29 RBIs in 48 games.

It still hasn't been enough to earn an invitation to spring training.

As the days pass, Taylor's frustration mounts.

"I'm at the point now where I might have to go overseas and change my career over there," he said. "If I go there, I can play five or six more years. I don't want to go that direction, but if I have to I will."

It's easy to understand Taylor's disappointment.

In the last few months, players like Quincy Foster and Eric Crozier, both left-handed hitting outfielders, have landed minor-league deals.

While those guys are obvious talents, neither of them put up the numbers Taylor amassed in Lancaster. Neither of them owns Taylor's extensive big-league background.

"Reggie, right now, is certainly a serviceable major league outfielder," said Adam Gladstone, the head of baseball operations for four Atlantic League teams, including the Barnstormers.

None of this makes much sense.

How can a player who nearly made the final cut with the eventual American League champions last March suddenly be so strapped for work?

There's one potential explanation. Taylor was hit with an unwanted label early in his career. Some people thought he coasted on talent and prospect status and failed to give maximum effort on the field.

Reputations stick forever in baseball. Now that Taylor is no longer a coveted first-round draft pick, teams appear less willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.

Taylor is aware of that possibility.

"I might have taken things for granted early in my career and not played as hard as I should play," he said. "I've grown up a lot since I was 20 or 21."

Taylor has proven his commitment over the past year. He didn't come to the Atlantic League or travel to Puerto Rico to make money. He went there to show he was dedicated to the game.

Taylor can only hope someone noticed.

"I did everything I could as far as staying on the field," he said. "I put up good, consistent numbers all year long. Hopefully I'll get into the right situation."

Taylor said he has received the most interest from the Florida Marlins and San Francisco Giants. The Marlins would be an ideal option because they don't have an established center fielder and they're not likely to acquire one in the near future.

If neither of those teams offers Taylor a contract, he'll consider playing in Mexico, Taiwan or Korea. He also hasn't ruled out a return to Clipper Magazine Stadium.

"It's a possibility." Taylor said. "It's far from my first priority right now. I've got to see what else is out there. Hopefully something good will pop up. My first thing is getting back into organized ball."

Taylor, who was drafted 14th overall by the Phillies in 1995, turned 30 earlier this month.

As the calendar flips to February and he remains unsigned, he's forced to consider the frightening possibility many minor league veterans face.

He might be out of chances.

"I'm not going to lie to you. I'm kind of nervous," Taylor said. "The window is closing. They're still signing people here and there, but it's getting late to be out there."


He led the Puerto Rican Winter League in homers...I say sign him to a minor league contract for sure
 

Fallen Apple

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Taylor came to the Lancaster Barnstormers in April and put together a fine year. He batted .302 with 23 homers and 77 RBIs in 115 games. His on-base percentage was .395. His slugging percentage was .553.
I wouldnt mind that at all Taylor has something to prove to alot of people. I think this would keep him motivated enough to put up some decent numbers.
 

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