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The 2012 baseball season is a milestone year for Rice assistant coach Mike Taylor, who is now entering his 20th year of coaching.
A former star player under head coach Wayne Graham at San Jacinto College, Taylor is in his 12th season at Rice after being hand-picked by his legendary mentor to join the Owl staff in 2000. Prior to Rice he had worked eight seasons coaching on the junior college level.
After tutoring the Rice infielders on fielding and executing defensive schemes, Taylor will work with the Rice pitchers in 2012. He shares the recruiting coordinator duties with fellow assistant coach Patrick Hallmark. On game days since 2009 Taylor has coached at third base.
In recruiting, Taylor has done an exemplary job of finding the top student-athletes from across the country. He has then coached and developed their talent to get the scouts' attention at the next level.
In 2011 one of Taylor's most-noted former infield pupils, third baseman Anthony Rendon, was the sixth player selected overall in the major league draft. His former Owl Paul Janish has been a starer for the Cincinnati Reds since 2010.
Rice has become a veritable pipeline to the pro ranks with 84 Owls selected in the major league draft in Taylor's 11 years on the job. There is every reason to expect more of the same in the years to come.
Major league teams would certainly give the Taylor's coaching career a high grade, and the University would no doubt do the same, for making sure the Rice student-athletes are students (and citizens) first. In 2011, 17 members of the Owl baseball program were selected to the Conference USA Commissioner's Academic Honor Roll for maintaining a semester grade point average of 3.0 or higher.
In 2010 starting first basebaseman Jimmy Comerota was selected from among all the baseball programs in the conference as the 2009 C-USA Spirit of Service Award winner. The prestigious Spirt of Service Award is presented by the C-USA Commissioner to one student-athlete's in each sport for their academic success, performance on the field, and the amount of charity work performed within the community.
When he worked primarily with the Owl infielders Rice was routinely considered to have one of the best infield groups in college baseball. Rice's national championship team of 2003 had an errorless streak of 85.2 innings at one point, which was then followed by another of 73.1 frames without a defensive miscue.
A former standout shortstop for Graham at San Jacinto, Taylor came to Rice in 2001. Previously he spent two seasons as an assistant at Galveston College, helping the Whitecaps to a two-year record of 84-34 and a conference championship in 2000. Galveston finished the season ranked fourth nationally.
Previously, the 43-year-old Houston native spent six seasons as an assistant at Blinn College in Brenham. Those Buccaneer teams won two conference titles and never failed to finish below the top three in the league. Blinn went 259-103 in those six seasons, ranking as high as number-three in the nation in 1993.
After a schoolboy career in which he was named Houston's high school player of the year in 1986, Taylor played on one national championship team under Graham at San Jacinto as a freshman in 1987, and on a national runner-up squad in 1988. Graham has called him "the best shortstop I've ever coached."
From San Jacinto, Taylor started his professional career, playing five seasons in the Toronto Blue Jays organization. He retired from playing in 1992 after his third season with the Knoxville Blue Jays of the Class AA Southern League.
While coaching at Blinn, Taylor completed his undergraduate degree in human performance at Prairie View A&M, earning his B.S. degree in 1997.
Taylor and his wife Amy live in Pearland, Tex. The couple have three daughters. Macy Marie (8) was born during the 2003 Houston Regional championship. Madisyn, joined the Taylor starting lineup on Oct. 2, 2005. The youngest, Molly Kate, was born on Jan. 14, 2009.
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