Yankees Draft: Biggest First Round MLB Draft Busts
By Adam Weinrib
1. Yankees Draft: Brien Taylor
Brien Taylor could’ve been a part of the 1990s Yankees Dynasty. He wasn’t.
I know this sounds unfathomable, but bear with me here: the New York Yankees had the first overall pick in 1991. That’s what you get for being 67-95 during a period in time where the top selection switched leagues every year — the Braves got Chipper Jones in 1990, the Yankees got Brien Taylor in ’91. And, as high school pitchers go, he was a sure thing.
At the age of 20, Taylor whiffed 187 men in 161.1 innings at High-A Tampa, posting a 2.57 ERA. At Double-A Albany-Colonie in 1993, he went 13-7 with a 3.48 mark. That’s when the trouble started — I avoided saying “disaster struck” because it was, in fact, Taylor himself who did the striking.
His brother Brenden got in an altercation with a man named Ron Wilson that offseason. When Taylor found out, he stomped to Wilson’s trailer to defend his brother’s honor and began to throw down with Wilson’s friend Jamie Morris. During the ensuing fight, Taylor fell on his shoulder, attempted to deliver a wicked punch, missed, and destroyed the interior of his body. Surgeon Frank Jobe called the injury “one of the worst he’d seen.” After whiffing so many men himself in a two-year minor league tenure, a whiff of Taylor’s own effectively ended his career.
His numbers in his “comeback” season in 1995? 0-5, 18.73 ERA. It was all over.
While failed prospects like Ty Hensley avoided being placed here because their bodies betrayed them, Taylor did it to himself. Depressing, but true — he’s the caveat.