Rangers feel they got a sleeper in Taylor

Prep OF was injured much of senior season

Rangers feel they got a sleeper in Taylor

ARLINGTON -- Going into his senior season at Portsmouth High in New Hampshire, Rangers 15th-round pick Kobie Taylor was viewed as the best high school prospect in the state, and one of the top prep outfielders in the country.

However, Taylor played in just two games this season before the 2016 MLB Draft. He started the season with a seven-game suspension from his school for what was deemed a "minor disciplinary issue." He then broke his thumb diving for a ball a game-and-a-half into his return, costing him the rest of the regular season.

Before all the turmoil, Taylor and his coach, Tim Hopley, had the sense the 6-foot-1, 175-pound center fielder would get picked somewhere between the third and fifth rounds.

"Obviously my hope was to hear my name called a little higher. But in the overall scheme of things, it makes sense that it wasn't," Taylor said. "I only played a total of two games this year … So, I really didn't get myself out there. But I'm happy with where I landed -- could've been worse."

While many teams stopped monitoring Taylor, the Rangers continued to pursue him. He will be playing in just his fourth game of the season on Monday, as Portsmouth looks to clinch a state title.

"[Teams] didn't get a chance to see him and scout him," Rangers senior director of amateur scouting Kip Fagg said. "With our early relationship and kind of knowing the talent level, that may have given us an edge."

Hopley and Taylor both confirmed that it was the injury, not the suspension, that dropped his stock.

"It was just a minor disciplinary issue, but our school takes things very seriously as far as conduct of its student-athletes," Hopley said. "It wasn't anything that was a repeat or habitual offense. It was more of a wrong place at the wrong time."

Taylor's rise through the ranks began last summer in the travel circuit, when Taylor launched a home run that got scouts buzzing. Hopley said Vanderbilt, Clemson, and University of North Carolina all began asking about him shortly after.

"He really is a five-tool guy. There's a lot to like about him," Hopley said.

Track every Rangers pick from the 2016 MLB Draft

Ultimately, Taylor chose Vanderbilt. But he's still willing to give the Rangers a chance, despite the commitment to a top-flight college program.

"I'm going to give it a good look and see where the financials are at and we'll go from there," he said. "I'm very interested."

Fagg would not comment on the likelihood of getting a deal done, but is hopeful a deal can be struck.

"He played for the Rangers scout team in Jupiter this past fall, so we've got a good relationship," he said. "We'll see where it goes."

Hopley shares Fagg's hopefulness.

"It's not out of the realm of possibility, that's for sure," he said.

Ryan Posner is a reporter for MLB.com based in Arlington. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.