Brien M. Taylor
- Bats Left, Throws Left
- Height 6' 4", Weight 195 to 215 lb.
- High School East Carteret High School
Pitcher Brien Taylor was selected by the New York Yankees with the first overall pick in the 1991 amateur draft. He signed with the Yankees for an unprecedented $1.55 million. He is one of two top picks to never reach the major leagues (Steve Chilcott is the other). In high school he had fanned 476 batters in 239 innings, going 29-6 with a 1.25 ERA.
It took quite a bit of time for Taylor and the Yankees to come to terms on a contract, costing the southpaw his '91 season. Despite never having pitched a professional inning, Taylor was named the #1 prospect in all of baseball by Baseball America prior to the 1992 season. In 1992 he made his debut in high class A with the Ft. Lauderdale Yankees, going 6-8 with a 2.57 ERA, 187 Ks and just 121 hits allowed in 161 innings. Florida State League managers voted him the #2 prospect in the league behind Carlos Delgado and he led the circuit in strikeouts (and balks, with 10). He made the league's All-Star team too. The BA editors ranked him the #2 prospect in baseball, behind Chipper Jones (Delgado was 4th).
In 1993 he was promoted to AA, with the Albany-Colonie Yankees and went 13-7 with a 3.48 ERA. He allowed 127 hits in 163 innings; his strikeouts fell to 150 though and his walks rose to 102. He failed to lead the Eastern League in Ks, though he was first in walks. He also was fourth in ERA and tied for second in wins, though. Eastern League managers voted him the fourth best prospect (behind Cliff Floyd, Manny Ramirez and Rondell White) and the top pitching prospect; BA editors ranked him the #18 prospect in baseball.
Things went south after the 1993 season. Taylor got involved in a bar fight with his brother and a former friend (defending his brother and friend) and hurt his left shoulder. He needed surgery and never reattained his velocity. He missed the '94 season, was 2-5 while playing rookie-league ball in the 1995 Gulf Coast League (2-5, 6.08, 29 H in 40 IP, 38 K, 54 BB).
Taylor returned to A ball in 1996 with the Greensboro Bats. He was toasted even worse - 43 walks in 16 innings, 21 hits allowed, 11 Ks and an 0-5 record with an 18.73 ERA in 9 starts. In 1997, he returned to the Bats and was 1-4 with a 14.33 ERA, walking 52 in 27 innings, allowing 31 hits and 20 strikeouts.
In 1999, the Yankees released Taylor. He signed with the Seattle Mariners but was released after spring training. He wound up with the Cleveland Indians but surrendered 8 runs in 2 and 2/3 innings, worse than even his two prior South Atlantic League stints. He would not pitch professionally again.
In 2012, his name was again in newspapers, and once again for the wrong reasons. He was arrested on March 1st in Beaufort, NC on multiple drug charges after undercover narcotics agents bought a large quantity of cocaine from him over a period of several months. On November 7, he was sentenced to 38 months in prison after pleading guilty to charges of distributing crack cocaine.