Taylor suffered partial paralysis in March after an outfield collision. The Rangers used their 33rd-round selection to pick Taylor. The draft lasts 50 rounds.
Coincidentally, or perhaps not, the Rangers selected UGA outfielder Zach Cone – the man Taylor collided with – with the 37th overall pick in the draft.
“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," Cone said in a release by UGA. "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 head coach David Perno called it a “classy move and a great gesture on the part of the Texas Rangers organization.” Perno said Taylor was in the middle of rehabilitation work when he called him after the draft pick was made.
“We’re all very proud of him,” said the player’s mother, Tandra Taylor, in the school press release. “It’s just amazing, and when he got the call, his face lit up, and we were all very excited. It was awesome news.”
Taylor is in the “Day Program” at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, after recently graduating from in-patient care. It’s uncertain that he’ll be able to walk again. He appeared in 117 games for Georgia, including 91 starts, with a career batting average of .312.
UPDATE: Texas Rangers director of scouting Kipp Fagg said drafting Taylor was "the right thing to do." His statement:
"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."