JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jordan Taylor is in a position where he can’t lose.
The St. Johns Country Day graduate and Florida State signee will get to play for his favorite college or have a shot to fulfill his professional baseball dream quicker than usual if the draft pundits are right.
Taylor is the highest-rated area high school prospect entering the Major League Baseball draft that begins on Sunday night, followed by Fletcher ace Malachi Witherspoon. A consensus top-110 prospect, Taylor, a power-hitting and quick outfielder, could conceivably sneak into the first night of selections (the first 74 picks come Sunday).
The second and third days of the draft are Monday and Tuesday and wrap up with the 20th round.
If the projections line up, and in baseball, the seldom do, Taylor could be the highest-drafted player straight out of an area high school since Providence’s Tyler Callihan went 85th to the Reds in 2019. And he could become the highest-drafted Black player straight out of the high school ranks from the News4JAX coverage region since Sandalwood’s Desi Relaford went No. 110 to the Mariners in 1991.
Whether he goes where he’s projected to (between the second and third rounds) or stays put at Florida State, Taylor knows he’s in a good position. He’ll either get a jumpstart on his professional career or hone his skills in Tallahassee under new coach Link Jarrett.
“It definitely is a win-win. Right now, I’ve done all I can do with tournaments and showcases and workouts and stuff like that.” Taylor said. “So, it’s out of my control right now to do anything else that I possibly can to get more money [from a draft position]. So at this point, I just have to set my number to where I want it. If I don’t get that then I can look forward to Florida State and get drafted in two years.”
Notable area MLB draft prospects
|Position||Player||Local tie||Draft rank|
|P||Hunter Barco||Florida/Bolles||61 (ESPN), 75 (MLB and Athletic)|
|IF||Colby Halter||Florida/Bishop Kenny||207 (ESPN), 249 (MLB)|
|P||Brad Hodges||St. Johns Country Day||221 (MLB)|
|OF||Jordan Taylor||St. Johns Country Day||83 (MLB and Athletic), 109 (ESPN)|
|P||Malachi Witherspoon||Fletcher||148 (MLB), 231 (ESPN)|
Taylor is rated the No. 83 overall prospect by both MLB.com and The Athletic, and No. 109 by ESPN. The baseball draft is the most unpredictable of all the major sports due to the inclusion of high schoolers in the process and teams’ maneuverability to stretch their signing bonus pool the farthest.
Taylor, a two-time All-News4JAX first-team selection, had a stellar season for the Spartans. He hit .457 with eight doubles, seven home runs and 16 stolen bases. The interest from scouts added another layer to Taylor’s final season that saw St. Johns play a rugged schedule, finish runner-up in the National High School Invitational and reach the third round of the Class 2A state playoffs.
With graduation followed by a quick turnaround to start workouts and summer classes at Florida State, Taylor is finally catching his breath.
“It really hasn’t hit me yet. I know it’s kind of close but I don’t know, it hasn’t settled in yet, like what could happen,” he said. “The whole year was crazy, between my BP sessions having to be timed for scouts to come watch.
“I didn’t really get a lot [of phone calls from teams/scouts] during the school season, Coach Tom [Lucas] got a lot and my advisor had a lot. So, right now it’s kind of hectic. I don’t really know a lot. I’ll know more on draft day about what teams are really interested, like money and all that. So right now, I’m just kind of just like, laying back and just going to see what’s happening right now.”
Local high school MLB draft history
A look at some of the notable area players who were selected straight out of high school within the top 125 picks in the professional baseball draft.
Pos., Player, School, Pick No., Team, Year
IF, Javier Baez, Arlington CD, 9, Cubs, 2011
IF, Billy Butler, Wolfson, 14, Royals, 2004
IF, Tyler Callihan, Providence, 85, Reds, 2019
C, Christopher Cross, Englewood, 43, Red, Sox, 1967
P, Joel Davis, Sandalwood, 13, White, Sox, 1983
P, Paul Fagan, Bartram Trail, 116, Mariners, 2003
C, Jon Farrell, Sandalwood, 93, Cardinals, 1989
C, Will Hartley, Bradford, 74, Indians, 1999
P, Eric Hurley, Wolfson, 30, Rangers, 2004
IF, Chipper Jones, Bolles, 1, Braves, 1990
P, Kris Keller, Fletcher, 101, Tigers, 1996
P, Jason Kelley, Suwannee, 106, Cubs, 1994
P, Mike Knowles, Palatka, 109, Yankees, 1997
IF, T.R. Lewis, Sandalwood, 88, Orioles, 1989
IF, Jeremy Matthews, Sandalwood, 102, Reds, 1987
P, Brett Myers, Englewood, 12, Phillies, 1999
OF, Bill Perry, Palatka, 69, Indians, 1965
P, Sean Reid-Foley, Sandalwood, 49, Blue, Jays, 2014
IF, Desi Relaford, Sandalwood, 110, Mariners, 1991
C, Alan Rick, Palatka, 123, Cubs, 2002
P, Chris Roberts, Middleburg, 34, Phillies, 1989
IF, Avery Romero, Menendez, 104, Marlins, 2012
P, Adam Wainwright, Glynn Academy, 29, Braves, 2000
3B, Randy Wallace, Englewood, 31, Reds, 1972*
SS, Michael Weaver, Paxon, 6, Indians, 1968
SS, Kevin Witt, Bishop Kenny, 28, Blue, Jays, 1994,