Stay Classy, Texas: Rangers Draft Partially Paralyzed Player

I like warm and fuzzy.  Maybe I'm getting old and soft but stories like this are why I'm proud to call myself a sports guy.  In case you haven't heard, the Texas Rangers drafted OF Johnathan Taylor from the University of Georgia in the 33rd round of the 2011 MLB Draft.  By all accounts, Taylor, a speedster at UGA, is a player who possesses tremendous talent and determination.  The Acworth, GA product was closely followed by Rangers Area Scout, Ryan Coe, throughout high school and College.  The two developed a relationship and it was Coe's intention to draft Taylor but that all changed in March when Taylor was injured in an on-field collision with teammate Zach Cone.  Taylor fractured several vertebrae and was paralyzed across all of his extremedies.  The prognosis for Taylor is that he is unlikely to ever walk again but the Rangers, in an unprecedented move, drafted the tetrapalegic in the 33rd round anyway.  Even more amazing, they drafted Zach Cone, the teammate with whom Taylor collided, 37th overall and asked him deliver the news. 

I know that the world of scouting is a "what have you done for me lately" kind of world... teams will draft players from certain areas to appease the area scouts in key states (they want to motivate them to work hard and find talent) but in this case, using a 33rd round pick on a player that will almost surely never see the field is pretty remarkable and commendable.  It can also be looked at as a bit of a motivational piece to Zach Cone, their second round pick.  You don't want his friend's sadness to be something that brings him down.  For prospects, draft day is supposed to be about fulfilling a lifelong dream and the culmination of countless hours of hard work; it should not be about the painful memory of an unpreventable accident.  In my opinion, this was a classy move that has already been duplicated (kudos to the Astros for drafting San Jacinto product Buddy Lamothe in the 40th round).  Sometimes, there are more important things than playing the numbers game.  Congratulations Johnathan, your on-field accomplishments have not gone unnoticed and your fight to run again is an inspiration to many.  Rest assured, you have a nation of fans and supporters cheering you on; thinking about how great it will be when you run down that first base line again.

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