Seminole, FL - Throughout his entire high school career, LHP/OF Taylor Layner, a 2011 Grad, has done one simple thing: Dominate his competition. If you were to simply read about his accomplishments, you would see that he has won over 30 games in his HS career on the mound, while only losing 4. You would hear about his FB which has touched high 80's before. You would see that he hits at a near .400 clip. You could read about how he is a gifted fielder that manages to track down many balls that normally would fall for doubles or triples. You'd read about the pop he displays during his games or the quickness for which he can go 1st to third. You would also ask yourself, "if this player is so good, how come I have never heard of him?" And the funny thing is, most of the state of Florida outside Pinellas County, has not either.
In the collegiate and professional level, there is a "sense" that if a player is not of a certain height or build, then regardless of how good their numbers are, they often get overlooked. Welcome to Taylor Layner's life.
"I just don't get it sometimes," questions the former Pinellas County Player of the Year. "I play the game hard, I work hard, everyone tells me how exciting I am to watch play. I just don't get why I have to be 6'0 in order to have someone say I am worth taking a chance on?" These are questions Layner asks himself, nearly everyday. But rather than blame the way the system works, Layner just keeps working harder. He's a quiet kid, who mostly keeps to himself. When you meet him, you may think he's arrogant or even cocky, tucked under his hooded sweatshirt or listening to his IPod. But you'd be wrong in assuming that. In fact, if you take the time to get to know him, you'd find out he's just a kid looking for an opportunity to play Division 1 baseball.
"I hear it all the time," says Layner. "We like your abilities, your arm, everything. The only thing stopping me is my height. Well, I can't control that. All I can control is what I do on the field." And all Taylor does...is win. Be it during his HS career at Osceola High School, where he enters his senior year in 2010/2011, or for his summer team, the West Florida Shockers, where he recently was named the 2010 PW 18U State Finals Tournament MVP. During the event, Layner only managed to squeeze out 12 hits in 19 AB's, driving in 12 RBI's. He smacked a HR as well in the event, while also tossing 9 innings of shutout ball and picking up 2 of his teams 7 wins in the process. But stuff like that is nothing new for Layner. He's been crushing the competition for 3 years at the HS level. Now, he just wants a chance to prove to a D1 team that he is worth the investment.
"The kid just does things the right way," stated Asst. Director of Scouting Brian Werner. "From basically sprinting around the bases on HR's, running 100% full speed on a pop up anywhere, hustling out ground balls, always looking to take the extra base...the kid just knows how to win. He's been the most exciting player to watch in Pinellas for the last 3 years."
Until the time comes that a team overlooks the height and just concentrates on what he brings to the table, Taylor will continue to play with a chip on his shoulder, out to prove to schools he has what it takes to succeed at the D-1 level. For those that have seen him play, and know the growing legend that is Taylor Layner, it will come as no surprise when he does make it!