Tacoma Rainiers infielder Chris Taylor at bat in a game vs. the Salt Lake Bees at Tacoma's Cheney Stadium on Tuesday, April 17, 2014.
The list of former Virginia baseball players to make it to Major League Baseball grew by one Thursday when Chris Taylor got the call to join the Seattle Mariners from Triple-A Tacoma.
Taylor, last year's Mariners Minor League Player of the Year, arrived in Seattle on Thursday and found himself immediately penciled into the lineup as the starting shortstop on a team fighting for a playoff spot.
"It's a dream come true," Taylor said before Thursday's game. "Being able to call my parents, it's tough to hold it together. That moment is something you're never going to forget. Talking on the phone to them and telling them and hearing their voices, how excited they were. It's just an undescribable feeling."
The former Cavalier, ranked by MLB.com as the club's No. 8 prospect, was second in the Pacific Coast League with a .328 average and had 63 runs scored, 22 doubles, seven triples, five home runs and 37 RBIs in 75 games for Tacoma.
"You really have to tip your hat to this kid," said Seattle general manager jack Zduriencik. "This was player of game at the Triple-A All-Star Game. What he did last year was terrific. He's a kid who deserves a chance right now. He has an opportunity to help us and gives us a window to see him."
Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon said Taylor will be thrown right into the infield mix.
"Any time a guy is swinging well and you have an opportunity to bring 'em, you want them in the lineup," McClendon said. "You don't want him sitting, and hopefully it can continue up here. I would say he'll get his fair share of playing time."
"The whole infield is left-handed," Zduriencik said. "The fact he's right-handed was really a factor in this decision. He's a Triple-A All-Star, what he did last year was terrific and we'll see. Let the best man play."
Taylor, who drove home the game-winning run in the Super Regionals against UC-Irvine that sent Virginia to the College World Series in 2011, is ready for the challenge.
"I don't think I'd be alive if I didn't have a little butterflies. That's what makes this game great. I couldn't be more excited. It's almost like a dream. I didn't know what number I was going to be either so to see No. 1, that was pretty cool. The whole thing is pretty surreal to me."