Texas Rangers say paralyzed UGA OF ‘deserved to be drafted’

Georgia players gather around injured center fielder Jonathan Taylor before Saturday's first game against Florida in the SEC Tournament. (AP photo)

Georgia players gather around injured center fielder Jonathan Taylor at the SEC Tournament. (AP photo)

Georgia outfielder Johnathan Taylor, who was paralyzed after colliding with a teammate in March, was drafted by the Texas Rangers on Wednesday in the 33rd round of the MLB Draft.

“The kid, he’s obviously going through a tough time, and this was a way to let him know that people are thinking about him,” Ryan Coe, the Texas Rangers scout for Georgia, told the AJC.

“And you know what? The kid deserved to be drafted. He was a good player for all those years. He’s somebody we had interest in had he been healthy.

“He deserved the recognition to be drafted … that’s all I can say.”

The selection of Taylor was one of the feel-good stories of the three-day draft. In the first round, the Rangers used the No. 37 overall pick to take Georgia’s Zach Cone, who was involved in the devastating outfield collision with Taylor in a March 6 game against Florida State.

Cone and Taylor remain best of friends and celebrated Wednesday’s announcement over the phone. Taylor was undergoing rehabilitation at Shepherd Spinal Center in Atlanta that has continued since surgery for a broken neck. He is paralyzed from the waist down.

“JT was so pumped up and couldn’t have been happier,” Cone told the AJC. “He was very surprised and not expecting it to happen. I was very happy for JT because I knew being drafted was something he always wanted.

“It’s an honor for me to get drafted by the same team. It says a lot about the Rangers. It means a lot to JT, me, and both of our families.”

Georgia baseball coach David Perno said, “This was truly a classy move and a great gesture on the part of the Texas Rangers organization.”

Taylor played at North Cobb High School and the past three seasons at Georgia. He had been scouted for years by Coe, who joined the Rangers last year after 13 seasons as an assistant at Kennesaw State. Coe brought up the idea of drafting Taylor to both Cone and the Rangers director of scouting, Kip Fagg. Both approved.

“I’ve always liked the way Johnathan played the game; he was hard-nosed and gritty player,” Fagg told the AJC. “At some point, if the tragedy wouldn’t have happened, he would’ve gotten drafted.”

“This was the right thing to do. It was about respecting how the kid went about his business, and it was a way to honor him and the way he played the game.”

Pro scouts in Georgia donated more than $1,500 to Taylor and his family with proceeds from last week’s Southeast Senior All-Star Game, which featured some of the top high school prospects from Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama and Tennessee.

After the injury, Taylor joined his teammates in the dugout for a pair of games before the end of the season. Georgia’s players wore “JT-2” (Taylor’s jersey number was No. 2) on the back of their batting helmets and “JT-2” was painted on the stadium’s outfield wall.

Fans can donate to the Johnathan Taylor Fund through the UGA website, georgiadogs.com, or at any First American Bank and Trust location. To send an online message to Taylor, go to www.caringbridge.org/visit/Johnathantaylor

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69 comments Add your comment

Daniel's Dawgs

June 8th, 2011
3:40 pm

Classy move Rangers…… Go Dawgs

BG

June 8th, 2011
3:41 pm

Great move by the Rangers. GO DAWGS!

Matthews Dawg

June 8th, 2011
3:41 pm

First and a great organization

DawginLex

June 8th, 2011
3:42 pm

Texas just became my 2nd favorite team.

Dadgum classy move!

Matthews Dawg

June 8th, 2011
3:42 pm

2nd, but still a classy thing for the Rangers to do! I now have a 2nd favorite team in the MLB, behind the Braves!! Go Dawgs!!

Patrick

June 8th, 2011
3:44 pm

This is awesome!

southern hope

June 8th, 2011
3:47 pm

Wow! Even if it was done to help with Cone, this is so great. And a real inspiration to all of the guys sitting at the Sheppard Center right now (many of whom were superb athletes before their accidents)

P-Man

June 8th, 2011
3:47 pm

I’m a new Rangers fan!

Sloan

June 8th, 2011
3:48 pm

My new favorite baseball team, the Texas Rangers!

51WTGW50

June 8th, 2011
3:48 pm

Was this a Sympathy pick?
Can the kid ever play again?
I hope he can return but I don’t know what the doctors have said.
Please somebody fill us in if he will ever be Good To Go?
I have broken my Back and I do physical work but i don’t think I will ever be as good as I once was.
Glad the RANGERS did this. It will give the kid some money to invest and live on or pay for future health issues.
This was a classy move.

Bo Diddley

June 8th, 2011
3:49 pm

What a display of class and grace!

Adam

June 8th, 2011
3:53 pm

very classy move by the rangers organization, very nice
to hear about stories like this,instead of what we usually
hear about in the media.

Lowcountry Bulldawg

June 8th, 2011
3:58 pm

The Rangers have become one of the premiere Baseball Organizations. Great job Nolan Ryan in overcoming what Tom Hicks left you with and what a incredible move in drafting this young man. We are and will continue to be Big Ranger fans, forgiving the Smoak trade!

still a brave fan

June 8th, 2011
4:01 pm

BarryLee

June 8th, 2011
4:04 pm

Sometimes something happens that just causes you to pause and say wow…

ViningsMike

June 8th, 2011
4:07 pm

Why didn’t the Braves think of that? Go JT!

Dawgs1

June 8th, 2011
4:14 pm

Classy Rangers! Just won a lot of new fans including me.

Walter Lampp

June 8th, 2011
4:14 pm

I’m a Ranger now!

Vicki

June 8th, 2011
4:16 pm

WOW!!! Good to know there are still people out there who believe in making dreams come true! Way to go Rangers! I am now a fan!

Jim S.

June 8th, 2011
4:16 pm

Go J.T.! Good stuff!

51WTGW50

June 8th, 2011
4:17 pm

Thank God Talyor’s parents didn’t go the Nick Buoniconti route and try to sue the school for their child’s injury.
Ryan was a BAD DUDE on the Mound and a Great Dude off the mound. Now we know how much Class “Mr. I’ll Knock You Out If You Charge the Mound” really has.

51WTGW50

June 8th, 2011
4:17 pm

sorry TAYOR’S

51WTGW50

June 8th, 2011
4:19 pm

HAHAH had to spell it Like it is in the HEADLINE.
It is so good to hear a FEEL GOOD story right now in sports.

Diane

June 8th, 2011
4:26 pm

I love Texas because this is what Texans are all about: character and class. Good move Rangers! I hope this young man makes a full recovery; bless him and the Texas Rangers!

YankeesFan

June 8th, 2011
4:29 pm

Congratulations to Johnathan! He is a classy, hard-working, and inspiring young man. Wishing him the best of luck as he recovers and move forward. Kudos to the Rangers for their support of Johnathan!

lucky21

June 8th, 2011
4:30 pm

Tech fan here congrats to JT and you stay classy rangers

Dawg Whisperer

June 8th, 2011
4:31 pm

Whaddya know? Business isn’t always as usual. Great forethought on the part of the Rangers. Even if JT can not produce a single hit for the Rangers, the good publicity generated from this can not be ascribed a value. Good things begat those who have a good heart.

OldFan

June 8th, 2011
4:32 pm

Well done, Rangers! Means the world to J.T. and to those of us who love the virtues of sports.

George Stein

June 8th, 2011
4:33 pm

This Tech fan applauds the Rangers and, more importantly, wishes for Taylor’s full recovery.

NewnanDawg

June 8th, 2011
4:34 pm

Wow! Awesome! And, that’s about all I have to say about that.

Dex

June 8th, 2011
4:34 pm

Wow! With all the negatives in the newspapers this is a touching story. Big ups to the Texas Rangers.

Joe B.

June 8th, 2011
4:35 pm

They probably just did it so they can low ball their offer to Cone. Does anyone actually think that there are any good people left in sports? If so, you are a sucker.

timthebrave

June 8th, 2011
4:39 pm

Congrats JT. Class move by the Rangers

Jeremy Waller

June 8th, 2011
4:39 pm

Awesome!! The Rangers have really done a good thing today and we are really proud of JT!!!

Cobb Woman of Color

June 8th, 2011
4:40 pm

Heartfelt and wonderful!

Martin

June 8th, 2011
4:43 pm

Wow, that was a great move

Dawg1

June 8th, 2011
4:49 pm

After the Braves, the Rangers will for now on be my favorite MLB Team. What a class thing to do…

NewnanDawg

June 8th, 2011
4:51 pm

Schlabach has a nice article up at espn.com now about it with comment from the Rangers organization.

The Baroness

June 8th, 2011
4:53 pm

What a great story!! This has made my day!!

All Smilez

June 8th, 2011
4:55 pm

Great story – happy to see all the positive feedback. Congrats to Taylor and Cone.

GT77

June 8th, 2011
4:58 pm

Super gesture by the Rangers. JT and I may have been on diffferent sides because of our schools, but I pray often for him.

51WTGW50

June 8th, 2011
4:58 pm

Michael C
Why did you ban DogLoverUGAmut….?
The New Orleans thing was a bit harsh but not racists or any cuss words.

NewnanDawg thanks for the note on the espn story. It was a good article for sure.

AGTFAN53

June 8th, 2011
4:58 pm

Way to go Texas Rangers and good luck to JT.

chuck allison

June 8th, 2011
5:01 pm

I want to understand. How is it classy to draft an unfortunate young man to play professional baseball when he is paralyzed? I guess I am glad that the young man takes it as a compliment.

Sean

June 8th, 2011
5:07 pm

This is political correctness gone crazy but if they can afford it, so be it; anything goes I guess.

Brian

June 8th, 2011
5:10 pm

This WAS a nice move by the Rangers, however, if you look back at the MLB draft over half of the players drafted this low never sign with the team. This didn’t cost the Rangers any money and it doesn’t give JT any money, he would have to sign a contract and get a signing bonus and if he doesn’t show up to play he doesn’t get paid and by contract gives back the signing bonus. No, this doesn’t help JT at all monetarily but it is a nice story he can frame and put on his wall that the family can say “JT was good enough to be drafted”. Instead of saying “I could have been, except I was hurt” He can always say ” I was drafted to play professional baseball” . Every little boy who plays baseball wants that someday and he earned it while he was healthy.

51WTGW50

June 8th, 2011
5:13 pm

I don’t KNOW
What is the Youngest Age a player can sign a MLB contract? Do players have to be at least a Senior in High School or can a 13 yr old player sign?

Yellow Jacket

June 8th, 2011
5:14 pm

Very cool. Wishing him the best as he recovers.

Leedawg

June 8th, 2011
5:17 pm

To all you cynics: they drafted the young man as a show of grace for a player who’s life has been turned upside down. He surely would have been drafted in the first three rounds had he been healthy. He’ll remember this for the rest of his life. Great gesture by the Rangers.

Chuck Allison, Sean (political correctness?) and Lemon Scab: go jump off a bridge in front of a moving freight train to stop the waste of breathing air the rest of us could obviously make better use of.

Diana Ybarra

June 8th, 2011
5:21 pm

Proud to be from Texas….Great move Rangers!! Your #1 in my book!!