Far from the bright lights of the ballpark in the Bronx, rules prohibit cameras and other recording devices where the future of a former "can't-miss" pitcher is to be determined next Wednesday. Half a life after the pinnacle of his baseball career, Brien Taylor's sentencing is on the docket for a New Bern, N.C., courtroom.
A left-hander with an explosive fastball and potent curve, Taylor was the first pick in the 1991 amateur draft by the New York Yankees, received a then-record $1.55 million signing bonus negotiated by super-agent Scott Boras and seemed destined to follow in the footsteps of his new team's southpaw legends Whitey Ford and Lefty Gomez. Once touted by Baseball America as the sport's top prospect, Taylor never reached Triple-A.
His fate is now with U.S. District Judge Louise Flanagan, who can sentence Taylor to five to 40 years after he pleaded guilty in August to distributing more than 28 grams of crack cocaine, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office of the Eastern District of North Carolina. The federal public defender's office, which represents the 40-year-old Taylor, declined comment other than to confirm that the matter is scheduled for Wednesday.
Taylor was indicted June 5 by a federal grand jury on three charges of crack cocaine distribution, superseding North Carolina state charges for trafficking. At the time of Taylor's March 1 arrest, the Carteret County Sheriff's Office said its undercover narcotic detectives and those of the Morehead City Police Department had purchased "a large quantity of cocaine and crack cocaine" from Taylor over several months. The Beaufort, N.C., native and former pride of East Carteret High School has been incarcerated for the eight months since his arrest.