ATHENS -- Georgia junior outfielder Johnathan Taylor has been selected by the Texas Rangers in the 33rd round of the Major League Baseball draft Wednesday.
"This was truly a classy move and a great gesture on the part of the Texas Rangers organization," said Georgia coach David Perno. "J.T. is definitely a player worthy of getting drafted. He's been a big part of our program, and we are all very excited for him. When I talked to him after he got the call, he was in the middle of his rehabilitation work, laughing and having a good time and was thrilled to be drafted."
Currently, the 5-8, 181-pound Taylor, is an outpatient at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta after suffering a broken neck in a March 6th outfield collision this year with teammate Zach Cone. The accident happened while the Bulldogs were playing Florida State in Athens.
Taylor, a native of Acworth, Ga., is the son of Tandra and John Taylor. Johnathan has appeared in 117 games in his Bulldog career including 91 starts. He owns a .312 career batting average. A Consumer Economics major, he was named to the SEC Freshman Academic Honor Roll in 2009 and the UGA Athletic Director's Honor Roll in 2010.
"We're all very proud of him," said Tandra Taylor. "It's just amazing, and when he got the call, his face lit up, and we were all very excited. It was awesome news."
Cone was the 37th overall pick in the draft, going in the first round to Texas on Monday.
"I was pumped up when the Rangers told me they were thinking about drafting J.T., and then I got a call saying that they had drafted him," said Cone. "I was already planning on going over to see him and now we can talk about the Rangers. This made my day, it's just awesome, and I'm so happy for him."
Georgia honored its injured teammate (J.T.) during the 2011 season that ended Sunday in the NCAA Corvallis (Ore.) Regional Final. On March 7, Taylor had neck surgery at St. Mary's Hospital in Athens to stabilize his spine. On March 11, he was transferred to the Shepherd Center in Atlanta. He graduated from in-patient care on May 24 and is in the "Day Program" there where he will continue rehabilitation for approximately 4-6 weeks. Since the accident, Taylor has been with his teammates in the dugout for two games this season. He was at Turner Field on April 25 when the Bulldogs defeated Georgia Tech in Atlanta. Then on May 28, he traveled to the SEC Tournament in Hoover, Ala., and saw the Bulldogs split two games with third-ranked Florida in the semifinals and qualify for an NCAA Regional bid. Georgia went 33-32.
To honor J.T., the team wore "JT-2" decals on the back of their batting helmets; "JT-2" was painted on the Foley Field wall in left center; they carried a framed picture of J.T. with them for their dugout; Cone, Levi Hyams and Peter Verdin took turns wearing Taylor's #2 jersey in games during the season.
Fans can donate to the Johnathan Taylor Fund through the UGAA website, georgiadogs.com, An account has been set up at First American Bank and Trust (FAB). Donations can be mailed to the following account or dropped off at any FAB location.
First American Bank and Trust, c/o Johnathan Taylor Fund, P.O. Box 1688, Athens, Ga., 30603.
A website where individuals can send Johnathan messages and check for updates has been set up by the family. To send an online note to Johnathan and the family, please visit:
TEXAS RANGERS STATEMENT ON 33RD ROUND
DRAFT SELECTION Johnathan Taylor
Selected comments from Texas Rangers Director of Amateur Scouting Kip Fagg:
“We thought selecting Johnathan was the right thing to do. We would have drafted him either way, regardless of any other circumstances involving his injury or Zach’s draft status. Our area scout in Georgia, Ryan Coe, has had a relationship with Johnathan since he was a high school player. The club has always liked his passion and ability as a player.
“A few weeks ago, myself and a couple other members of our department visited Zach Cone in Georgia in the course of normal pre-draft activity. We presented Zach with a Rangers jersey for Johnathan that had been signed by the entire club, and asked if Zach could deliver it to his teammate.
“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.”
Astros did a similar thing with they drafted a kid from San Jacinto JC who was paralyzed.