1993 Albany-Colonie Yankees Yearbook
Eastern League Programs
I plucked this one from the files when I read of the recent arrest of former Yankees phenom Brien Taylor for cocaine trafficking. Taylor might have been one of the great power-pitching left-handers of the 1990’s alongside the Seattle Mariners’ Randy Johnson. Certainly that’s what the New York Yankees expected when they made the 19-year old fireballer out of North Carolina’s East Cataret High School the #1 overall pick in the 1991 amateur draft. Taylor’s ticket was his fastball, which clocked as high as 99 mph in high school. During his senior year, he struck out 213 batters in only 88 innings.
Taylor’s family held out through the summer of 1991, rebuffing lowball offers from the Yankees and threatening to enroll Brien in junior college instead. Jeff Passan wrote a great retrospective on the Taylor negotiations for Yahoo! Sports in 2006. With assistance from agent Scott Borras, Taylor’s mom Bettie, who worked in a seafood processing plant, ultimately faced down the Yankees negotiators and secured a record $1.55 million signing bonus for Taylor. At the time, it was the largest bonus paid to a draftee in the history of professional baseball.
Taylor pro debut came in 1992 with the Ft. Lauderdale Yankees of the Florida State League. By all accounts, he lived up to the hype, striking out 187 batters in 161 innings and posting a miserly 2.57 ERA. Taylor headed to Albany-Colonie in the double-A Eastern League out of spring training in 1993. Every thing was on schedule for Taylor to be a fixture in the Yankees rotation by 1995 at age 23.
The summer of 1993 in Albany turned out to be Taylor’s peak. He won 13 games and continued to strike out bushels of opponents (he also led the league in walks issued). Baseball America named him the game’s best prospect that year. Back home in Beaufort, North Carolina in December 1993, Taylor and his cousin drove to the home of a man who assaulted his brother Brenden in an earlier dispute. In the altercation that ensued, Taylor was knocked over and suffered a catastrophic tear to the labrum and capsule of his pitching arm.
After surgery, Taylor sat out the 1994 season. He lost his control and 8 mph off his fastball. The Yankees let Taylor go and he puttered around the low minors as late as 2000, but never again rose above A-ball after the fight. He became the second #1 overall pick in the amateur draft to never play in the Major Leagues, following Steve Chilcotte, the New York Mets #1 pick in 1966.