Drafting paralyzed player felt 'right'

Georgia's Johnathan Taylor, who was left paralyzed after an outfield collision in a March 6 game, was drafted in the 33rd round by the Texas Rangers.

ATHENS, Ga. --- Not much has stopped Georgia's Johnathan Taylor in his life.


Taylor's wheelchair didn't prevent the Texas Rangers from selecting him in the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft on Wednesday.

The defending American League champions picked Taylor, who was paralyzed in an outfield collision with Zach Cone, in the 33rd round (No. 1,014 overall) on the final day of the draft.

The Rangers had previously selected Cone in the Compensatory A round on Monday.

"Hearing about J.T. made my day," Cone said. "It made my day. It made my year. It made everything. He's my best friend. I'm so excited for him."

Taylor had been an outfield starter and leadoff hitter for Georgia as a sophomore and at the beginning of his junior season until he broke his neck during a game against Florida State on March 6.

"We're all very proud of him," his mother, Tandra Taylor, said in a university release. "It's just amazing, and when he got the call, his face lit up. We were all very excited. It was awesome news."

Taylor was initially paralyzed from the neck down, but has regained mobility in his upper extremities. He did not suffer major spinal cord damage that would absolutely prevent his regaining use of his legs, and Taylor has vowed to eventually walk again.

"I thought that was pretty awesome and pretty cool to see his name pop up," said Georgia outfielder Chase Davidson, who was picked by the Houston Astros in the 41st round on Wednesday. "He's done so much for Georgia and gone through so many hard times, to see his name pop up, it's pretty cool."

Taylor was on the Rangers' radar prior to the draft.

"We've seen Johnathan play ever since high school and was always impressed with the way this guy went about his business especially on the baseball field," Rangers Director of Amateur Scouting Kip Fagg said in a release. "We just thought after the tragedy there that happened at the University of Georgia, it was kind of the right thing to do. As an organization, I think all of us are always trying to do the right thing in any situation. Taking Johnathan in the draft today, it was something we felt was right."