In George We Trust
A(nother) blog about the most storied franchise in sports
Friday, April 14, 2006
Prospect Retrospect: Brien Taylor
Name: Brien Taylor
Positions: LHP
Vitals: 6'3", 220 lbs
Bats/Throws: L/L
Born: December 26, 1971
Hometown: Beaufort, North Carolina
Drafted: 1st round (1st overall) in 1991 (Yankees 1st selection). Received a $1,550,000 bonus.

Background: The child of a mason and crab processor, Taylor was the consensus top pitcher heading into the 1991 draft after a stellar high school career that was highlighted by a mind blowing 476 K's in 239 IP (that's 17.92 Kper9). Taken by the rebuilding Yankees first overall, Taylor was offered a $350,000 minor league deal (the going rate at the time), however he held out for more money thanks to advice from Scott Boras. Although his high school grades were poor and he didn't receive any college scholarship offers, Taylor threatened to attend junior college in lieu of signing if he didn't receive a bonus along the lines of that offered to top pick Todd VanPoppel the previous year (VanPoppel eventually headed off to Stanford after turning down a reported $1.5M bonus from the A's). Taylor signed for a then record $1,550,000 bonus hours before he was to attend his first day of class. The record bonus later became the subject of an entire segment of 60 Minutes.

Strengths: Taylor featured a very live arm and attacked hitters with the hard-harder-hardest mindset. He possessed an above average fastball that sat in the mid-90s and occasionally threatened triple digits. His secondary pitches were also very good, and he was a strikeout pitcher than missed plenty of bats. A prototypical flamethrower, Taylor was even more attractive because he was a southpaw.

Weaknesses: The biggest knock on Taylor was his makeup, evidenced by the signing bonus fiasco. He needed to improve his control and harness his emotions on the mound, as he would occasionally let jams snowball out of control, to which he quipped "In high school nobody ever got on base so I've got some adjusting to do."

Stats: Taylor ranked as the top prospect in all of baseball by Baseball America prior to the 1992 season, before he ever threw a professional pitch. Taylor's first few years in pro ball were very good as he was named the second best prospect in the Florida State League in 1992 (behind Carlos Delgado) and fourth best in the Eastern League in 1993 (behind Cliff Floyd, Manny Ramirez and Rondell White).

'88-'91East Carteret High29-61.25--239.0---476-?
1992Ft. Lauderdale6-82.57--161.0121--187-?
1993Albany-Colonie 13-73.48--163.0127--150-102
2000Columbus (CLE)0-027.005.255-02.2511-812-9

What Happened? After the 1993 season, Taylor tore the labrum in his left shoulder defending his brother Brenden in a bar fight that also included close friend (and parolee) Ron Wilson. Taylor faced some misdemeanor charges, but they were eventually dropped. On the mound, Taylor's velocity, control and stuff all but disappeared, leaving the talented pitcher a shell of his former self.

After a failed comeback attempt that included an unsuccessful transition to the bullpen, the Yankees cut ties with Taylor after the 1998 season. He caught on with the Mariners (although he was released before spring training) and the Indians before finally calling it a career. Taylor holds the distinction of being 1 of only 3 first overall selections to never reach the majors, joining Steve Chilcott and Josh Hamilton (although there may still be hope for Hamilton).

So what did we learn from this kids? Always fight dirty in bar fights - hit with objects (not your hand) and avoid using your pitching arm. Death before dishonor kids, death before dishonor.
Anonymous Sean McNally said...
Thanks for the bad memories.

Anonymous BadgerBC said...
Todd Van Poppel didn't go to Stanford (He had a scholarship to Texas). He signed that ludicrous contract for 1.2mil which stipulated his inclusion on the ML roster in three seasons IIRC. That is why Oakland lost him to waivers at age 24 even though he was worth retaining.

Blogger Mike A said...
Thats what I thought VanPoppel did, but the site I was using for some info on Taylor said he went to Stanford.

I thought i sounded wrong, but I figured I had it right in front me...

My bad.

Anonymous 6th round pick said...
poppel never went to college and Taylor didn't hurt his shoulder in a have your facts wrong moron

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