Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Unfortunate Tale of Brien Taylor

LHP Brien Taylor - A Cautionary TaleOn December 18, 1993, the should-have-been future of the New York Yankees was derailed. At a trailer park in North Carolina, Brien Taylor was wrestled to the ground while defending his brother. The impact dislocated his golden left arm… and tore his labrum.

Brien Taylor was drafted with the first overall pick in 1991 – one year before the Yankees selected SS Derek Jeter. As a high school senior Taylor worked 88 innings, struck out 213 hitters and walked only 28. His ratcheted his fastball up to 99 mph.

Signed to a then-record $1.55 million signing bonus, the phenom represented the future of an organization that hadn’t won a World Series since 1978.

After being drafted, Taylor told the media, "In high school nobody ever got on base so I've got some adjusting to do."

In his first two seasons, Taylor was as advertised. At Fort Lauderdale (A+), he struck out 187 in 161 innings and posted a 2.57 ERA. The next year, as a 21-year-old at Double-A Albany-Colonie, Taylor went 13-7 with a 3.48 ERA and struck out almost a hitter an inning. Baseball America had named him the game's best prospect.

The injury put a scare into the entire organization but they had reason to be optimistic. He was, after all in good hands; the then guru for ailing arms, Dr. Frank Jobe. Jobe’s report was optimistic.

"Brien came down to see me," Jobe had said. "His dislocation wasn't that severe. He's doing exercises to develop the strength between his shoulder, his arm and his body. He's nearing full range of motion, he's getting good strength. The prognosis is optimistic. He'll be tossing a ball in four months. He'll come back and pitch."

When Taylor did return in 1995, he reported to the Gulf Coast League. He had lost 8 mph on his fastball and couldn’t locate his breaking ball. In limited action (40 innings) Taylor posted a 0-5 record and an ERA of 18.73.

Taylor never again made it past Class A. In three more seasons at Greensboro, Taylor won one game and had an ERA of 14.52. After the 1998 season, the Yankees released the one-time world beater.

The Cleveland Indians gave him a shot in 2000, and he gave up 14 baserunners and eight earned runs in 2 2/3 innings.

"I've been through 28 drafts," Scott Boras said recently, "and Brien Taylor, still to this day, is the best high school pitcher I've seen in my life."

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

hey man, you do know that your article makes no sense since you failed to mention the infamous fight that led to his brien's injury.

i'm sure you just forgot to post that part, so you should fix it so you don't confuse any ppl who don't know about the sad story of brien taylor.

Jeff said...

It's in the lede:

"At a trailer park in North Carolina, Brien Taylor was wrestled to the ground while defending his brother. The impact dislocated his golden left arm… and tore his labrum."

So it was in there but I chose to focus on the baseball side of things.

Thanks for reading!