DUNEDIN, Fla. – Toronto Blue Jays prospect Taylor Cole has different priorities than an average baseball player.
The 25-year-old pitcher missed two years of baseball to go on a Latter Day Saints mission in Toronto from 2008 – 2010; something he has no regrets about.
The Las Vegas native was drafted right after high school in 2007 by the Los Angeles Dodgers, but instead felt compelled to devote his time to his Mormon faith.
“I really wasn’t keeping up with baseball during my mission, as the focus was not on baseball at that time, the purpose was to serve the Lord,” Cole said. “It was just that time in my life where I needed to 100 per cent serve the Lord and it was challenging, but it was a great and I learned a lot about myself.”
Cole explained that being on the mission was a learning experience and he compared its struggles to that of baseball.
“With the mission, there is not much of an outlet and on top of that you get rejected a lot, whether it be knocking on doors or talking to people – the statistics are just crazy, so going from that to playing baseball was different,” Cole said. “You have your rejection in baseball but it was nothing compared to what I saw in the mission – with baseball I am able to adjust that much easier, if that makes sense.”
The young athlete comes from a different religious background than most with some of the beliefs including not being allowed to drink coffee, alcohol, and attending church every Sunday.
“I think the biggest thing is just being able to adapt, but I never try to push my religion on anybody,” Cole said. “Everybody knows what I believe and they know what is important to me.”
As a competitor looking to go up to the next level, Cole feels confident that he will see results and has started his preparation early for spring training.
“Our season ended in September and I started first thing in October,” Cole said. “I got put on a strength and conditioning program and I gained 10 to 15 pounds this year and I got with a nutritionist that helped me put on the good weight.”