2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner

Sky Sox pitching coach recalls days of handling Yankees super-prospect Brien Taylor

Published: June 1, 2014, 5:47 pm, by Brent Briggeman

Sky Sox pitching coach Dave Schuler has been asked this question before, and by a much larger group of media.

Schuler talked about Tyler Matzek to a pair of reporters after a loss on Sunday and was ultimately asked if Matzek was ready to be a big-league pitcher.

“Can’t answer that,” Schuler said.

We’ll find out some day if the “can’t” was merely a substitute for “won’t,” which it has been in the past.

Schuler coached super-hyped prospect Brien Taylor in Double-A in the Yankees organization in 1993. Taylor had been the No. 1 overall pick in the 1991 draft and dominated in his first professional season.

His second year he was the top prospect in baseball and playing under Schuler.

“They used to ask me that about Brien Taylor when I was with the Yankees – is he ready?” Schuler recalled. “I thought he was a green banana at that time, but you can’t tell the press that because New York City was waiting.”

Injuries ultimately robbed Taylor of a big-league opportunity, but the lessons of dealing with a prospect have clearly stuck with Schuler.

On Sunday he talked about Matzek’s mechanics, explaining why they led to Sunday’s poor performance. He wants to fix those, help Matzek develop some needed consistency and help polish him as a pitcher.

At what specific point in that process Matzek is plucked by the Rockies is as much beyond Schuler’s control as it is Matzek’s. And if he feels strongly one way or another about Matzek’s current status, it would do him no good to reveal it now.

That’s OK, he’ll answer his questions as best he can and continue to think about what he can do to fix Matzek’s fundamental foundation.

“You have to have that as a base,” Schuler said of Matzek’s tempo. “If you have that consistently, all things are possible.”