BOWIE, Md. -- Michael A. Taylor, one of the top prospects for the Washington Nationals, took part in the Futures Games in Minnesota July 13, and played in the Double-A Eastern League All-Star game in Altoona, Pa., July 16.
Taylor is an outfielder for the Harrisburg Senators, and one of his teammates is also having a good year in the Washington Nationals' farm system. Kevin Keyes, 25, also an outfielder, did not begin this season as highly touted as Taylor.
Keyes, in fact, was not even listed as one of the top 30 prospects in the Washington system going into this year, according to Baseball America. Taylor, meanwhile, was ranked No. 7 by Baseball America, and is now No. 3 on the mlb.com list of top Washington prospects. Keyes is not listed currently among the top 20 Nationals prospects by mlb.com, but that could change.
After starting the season with the Single-A Advanced Potomac Nationals of the Carolina League, where he also played in 2012 and 2013, Keyes was promoted to Harrisburg after 19 games in Woodbridge, Va.
"I got off to a hot start," Keyes said of this season.
Now, Keyes has 17 home runs during 80 games with Harrisburg after the Senators ended a three-game series July 23 against the host Bowie Baysox, a farm team of the Orioles. Keyes is hitting .247 with 51 RBIs in his first 275 at bats with Harrisburg.
He came from a solid program at the University of Texas, but he said pro ball was another kind of animal.
"I think the biggest adjustment was getting used to the new surroundings and the wear and tear on the body," Keyes said. "It was the grind of playing every day and the 10-hour bus rides. As I have gotten older, I have gotten used to it."
Keyes joined Taylor, who is hitting .316 with 21 homers, and pitcher Colin Bates as Nationals prospects who took part in the Eastern League All-Star game. Bates, drafted out of North Carolina in 2010 by Washington, is 1-2 with an ERA of 4.07 with two saves during his first 29 bullpen outings this season for Harrisburg.
"It is always a blessing to get chosen for an all-star game," said Keyes, who was hitless in one at bat off the bench during the game as his West Division team beat the East, 5-2.
Taylor was 1-for-3 as the starting center fielder, while Bates allowed one run with two strikeouts in one inning of relief.
The Nationals drafted Keyes during the seventh round in 2010. He hit 21 homers for Potomac in 2012, but was sent back to the same team in 2013, when he hit .233 with 13 homers.
Now he forms a solid one-two outfield punch with Taylor, whom the Nationals drafted as a shortstop out of a Florida high school during the sixth round in 2009.
Keyes said he had been impressed by Taylor, his teammate last year at Potomac and now at Harrisburg.
"I have seen a big adjustment," Keyes said of Taylor. "He goes in the [batting] cage with an approach on what he wants to do."
The same could be said of Keyes.