LOS ANGELES -- Ryan Taylor knows the names -- the Yasiel Puigs and the Clayton Kershaws. But he doesn't often see their faces. He's not an avid sports fan. An Olathe, Kan., native, he'll go to a Royals game here and there. He'll watch the World Series, but that's about the only time he watches.
That's about to change. He's about to get the best seat in the house.
The Dodgers drafted Taylor in the 13th round (No. 399 overall) on the final day of the First-Year Player Draft. A 6-foot, 195-pound right-hander from Arkansas Tech, Taylor already has a professional mentality, a workmanlike approach to the game.
"Not much bothers him," Arkansas Tech pitching coach Derrick Wynn said. "He doesn't get too caught up in baseball. He's not even a sports guy. He likes to pitch. He likes understanding how to pitch, but as far as actually watching sports, he's not a sports junkie.
"He's not a guy who's going to sit there at the end of a bad outing and think about it forever. He's going to flush it and move on to the next one."
Taylor started playing the game with the encouragement of his father, and he soon realized his potential in the sport.
"My dad, he played high school baseball, and he was an athlete in high school, so he wanted to push me there," Taylor said. "And just the talent that I had, I was a catcher and a pitcher up until college, and then I just pitched. I just enjoyed playing it, and I just went with it, and now I'm here."
Taylor went 6-2 with a 3.55 ERA as Arkansas Tech's ace this season, striking out 86 in 88 2/3 innings. It was Taylor's second season with the Wonder Boys after spending two years as a reliever at Missouri Southern State.
"I felt, because there weren't many pitchers that we had, that I had to take over the pitching staff," Taylor said. "And I just went out and threw my best, and it happened to work."
Wynn said he worked with Taylor to add a slider to his fastball-curveball arsenal and helped him develop a changeup as well. That slider quickly became an out pitch for the right-hander as he developed into a four-pitch pitcher.
"I use all of my pitches for out pitches -- it depends on what kind of hitter it is," Taylor said. "But I would say more of my slider as my out pitch than any other pitch."
Wynn has also watched Taylor grow into a workhorse over the last two seasons, becoming stronger and adding velocity to a fastball that once topped out around 88-90 mph. Wynn said he can see Taylor as a late-inning reliever in the big leagues -- he has the fastball and the fortitude.
"He was a guy that really got strong as the year went on," Wynn said. "I think late in the season he was up to 115 pitches, and head coach [Dave] Dawson looked at me and said, 'Should we get someone going right here?'
"And then he popped 94, and I said, 'He looks pretty good to me, coach.'"
Michael Lananna is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.