MANHATTAN, Kansas (6-29-2018) / (UPDATED 7-13-2018) -- Kansas State University has hired Buck Taylor, who has guided Palomar to a 434-181 record and eight Pacific Coast Athletic Conference championships in 14 years as head baseball coach, as its new pitching coach, the university announced on its web site late Friday evening, June 29.
"Buck Taylor has been regarded as one of the best coaches in the country for some time now," new K-State head coach Pete Hughes said. "He is one of the best baseball minds in our game. Some of the top pitching coaches were former catchers, and he will bring a valuable perspective to our pitching game. He has a track record of developing pitchers and preparing them for the highest levels. He is a dynamic recruiter, great husband and father. He, his wife Natasha and daughters Finley and Avery will be terrific additions to our great community here in Manhattan (Kansas)."
The university released this statement from Taylor:
"My family and I are honored to be new members of the Wildcat family. I am looking forward to identifying, recruiting and developing the best athletes in the country. I can't wait to get to work with the outstanding staff Coach Hughes has put together."
Hughes, the former head coach at Virginia Tech University and the University of Oklahoma, who was an assistant at the University of Georgia last season, sought out Taylor, a one-time catcher at Rancho Santiago Community College (now Santa Ana College), MiraCosta Community College and San Francisco State University, shortly after Hughes accepted the head coach's position at Kansas State on June 12.
Taylor has sent 21 pitchers into professional baseball after being elevated from Associate Head Coach on California Community College Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame coach Bob Vetter's staff at the conclusion of the 2005 season, when Vetter retired. In their final game with Vetter as Head Coach and Taylor as Associate Head Coach, the Comets finished as runner-up to Santa Rosa in the 2005 California Community College State Tournament Final Four in Fresno.
Four of those 21 pitchers have advanced to the Major Leagues.
This season, Palomar became the first Pacific Coast Athletic Conference college in history to land four players on Major League opening-day 25-man rosters in the same year:
-- Seattle Mariners relief pitcher Nick Vincent, currently in his seventh Major League season
-- Chicago White Sox middle infielder Tyler Saladino (since traded to the Milwaukee Brewers), in his fourth Major League season
-- Houston Astros relief pitcher James Hoyt (since traded to the Cleveland Indians), in his third Major League season
-- Kansas City Royals rookie reliever Tim Hill, who made the jump from Double-A in 2017 to the Royals' opening-day Major League roster to begin the 2018 season, pitched in KC's season opener and has come out of the bullpen in 35 of the Royals' first 81 games.
While Vincent, Saladino and Hoyt have each spent time during the season on the disabled list, Hill (a cancer survivor) has remained on the Royals' active big-league roster the entire season. Vincent is back pitching for the MLB Mariners after spending part of the season on the DL. Hoyt went on the DL early in the season and is currently pitching for the Astros' Triple-A farm club in Fresno. And Saladino, a former every-day starter at three different infield positions for the White Sox, has been on the DL since suffering a severe left ankle sprain on May 29 after being named as the Brewers' every-day starting shortstop.
The other pitcher to make it to The Show during Taylor's tenure as Palomar head coach was former St. Louis Cardinals reliever Marcus Hatley.
Taylor, who coached catchers and pitchers and was Vetter's Associate Head Coach from his arrival at Palomar in 2001 through 2005, hit the ground running after being elevated to head coach of the Comets after the 2005 season. In his debut season in 2006, he was the first coach in the history of what at the time was known as the Pacific Coast Conference to be named Conference Coach of the Year in his initial season, when he guided Palomar to a conference title.
Taylor was named the American Baseball Coaches Association / California Community College Athletic Association State Coach of the Year for 2008. He's also been honored as Conference Coach of the Year in 2006, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2018 and was selected as Conference Coach of the Year for all men's sports for both the 2008-09 and 2014-15 academic years.
Perfect Game USA, based in Des Moines, Iowa, ranked Taylor's 2015 club No. 2 among the nation's community college teams going into the California Final Four weekend. The Comets went on to place third in the California Community College Championships in Fresno and were ranked No. 9 nationally at the conclusion of post-season play.
Taylor played and managed professionally in Vienna, Austria for the Vienna Lions, guiding them to a championship in 1996. He also was an assistant coach for the Austrian National Team.
He had starred as a high school player at Carlsbad High School, helping the Lancers to a CIF San Diego Section championship in 1989.
Taylor has been an Associate Professor in the Department of Kinesiology, Health and Recreation on Palomar's full-time faculty.
Kansas State published this statement from the Mariners' Nick Vincent on its web site:
"Buck taught me a lot about the game of baseball and how to play it the right way. There's one thing I still use to this day: Buck always preached strike one and stay aggressive. And one-pitch outs are a pitcher's best friend. It keeps the pitch count down and helps you stay in the game longer."