BEAUFORT - More than 20 years after the Yankees offered him a record $1.55 million, Brien Taylor was sentenced to 38 months behind bars on federal narcotics charges.
In 1991, the Beaufort native was the the first pick by the Bronx Bombers, a prospect from East Carteret High School who threw a 97 m.p.h. fastball. A fight in 1993 irreparably damaged Taylor's arm, and in March 2012, undercover investigators arrested the former pitcher on drug distribution charges.
Narcotics detectives from the Carteret County Sheriff's Office and Morehead City Police Department said over the course of several months, they purchased more than 28 grams of crack cocaine from Taylor.
Before U.S. District Judge Louise Flanagan Wednesday, Taylor said he was deeply sorry for causing pain to his five daughters and family members with him in court. Taylor pleaded guilty in August to three charges of distributing cocaine.
"We will always love Brien, and stand by him," said his mother, Betty Taylor, in an interview Wednesday. "If it wasn't for my faith in God, I don't know how we would be getting through this."
Taylor now takes care of the pitching prospect's daughters at her Beaufort home, at the end of Brien Taylor Lane. The street was named for her son 20 years ago, when Taylor seemed destined for Yankee Stadium.
"Life goes on here, and I know Brien has learned from his mistake," Betty said. "His girls are all straight-A students, on the honor role. And we'll be here for him when he comes home."
According to the New York Times, in the season before Taylor's devastating arm injury, the pitcher was 13-7 with 150 strikeouts in 162 innings and a 3.48 earned run average for the Yankees' AA team in Albany.
Then in December 1993, a fight left Taylor's shoulder dislocated and tissue around his arm socket damaged. After surgery, his performance on the field suffered, and the Yankees released Taylor in the fall of 1998.
Taylor will begin serving his sentence at Butner Federal Correctional Complex 35 miles north or Raleigh in the coming weeks. Under federal sentencing guidelines, Taylor can not be paroled, but can reduce his sentence by six months for good behavior.