Former University of Georgia baseball player Johnathan Taylor may never walk again, but that didn't stop the Texas Rangers from drafting him.
In a feel good moment, the Texas Rangers drafted the partially paralyzed Taylor in the 33rd round of Major League Baseball's Draft Wednesday. Taylor broke his neck colliding with teammate Zach Cone during a March 6 game. Cone was the Rangers' supplemental-round pick on Monday, 37th overall.
Texas' Director of Amateur Scouting Kip Fagg said that Taylor's selection was "something we felt was right."
"We would have drafted him either way, regardless of any other circumstances involving his injury or Zach's draft status," Fagg told the Associated Press. "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."
Georgia Bulldogs baseball coach David Perno called it a "classy move."
"This was truly a classy move and a great gesture on the part of the Texas Rangers organization. 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," Perno told georgiadogs.com.
"We're all very proud of him. It's just amazing, and when he got the call, his face lit up, and we were all very excited. It was awesome news," Tandra Taylor, Johnathan's mom, told the website.
Cone was ecstatic his hurt teammate was taken by the same team that drafted him.
"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. 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."
Taylor underwent neck surgery March 7 to stabilize his spine at St. Mary's Hospital in Athens, according to the website. He was transferred to the Shepherd Center in Atlanta on March 11 and is currently undergoing outpatient treatment. He hit .312 in 117 games at Georgia.
The Houston Astros followed in the Rangers footsteps, selecting Buddy Lamothe in the 40th round. Lamothe, in his first season at San Jacinto, was paralyzed last month in a diving accident in San Marcos, Texas.
The hard-throwing right-hander from Lyndonville, Vt., was 0-2 with a 0.77 ERA and 28 strikeouts in 23 1-3 innings pitched.
According to an update on a website dedicated to him, the 20-year-old Lamothe is undergoing inpatient rehabilitation in Houston, with the hope he'll be released for outpatient therapy in the next few weeks.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.