Published on September 6th, 2012 | by John Friend1
Pittsburgh Arms Race: Jameson Taillon a Fireballer in the Making
Second Overall, 2010
6′ 6″, 225 lbs
20 Years Old
A hard-throwing right hander, Jameson Taillon is a Texas product. He attended The Woodlands High School, where he went 22-6 overall including an 8-1 record in his senior year. Not many pitchers that enter the MLB Draft directly out of high school have success in the big leagues. It was a risk for the Pirates to take Taillon with the second-overall pick, but it was one the Pirates were comfortable taking. Although the Pirates selected him at the ripe age of 18, Taillon was far mature beyond his years.
“They’re one of those teams that can’t go out on the huge market and compete with those [large-market] teams,” Taillon said. “Any time you get picked by one of those teams, it’s a huge honor. I guess they see me as a future piece of that organization. [They're] eager to turn it around. Extremely motivated to turn it around here. I can tell what kind of player they like: motivated. I can see the Pirates turning it around shortly.”
- Jameson Taillon, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Pirates Take ‘Risk’ with Pitcher
In the second round of the same draft, the Pirates selected another hard-throwing right hander in Stetson Allie. Allie never seemed to grasp the art of pitching and could not control his 98+ mph fastball. Allie is now attempting to transition into a position player.
No one knows for sure if there were any maturity or mentality issues with Allie, but it seemed as if the focus and dediction to becoming a professional pitcher was not there. That is the risk that is taken when selecting a high school pitcher so high in the draft. So far Taillon has gone against all odds and continued to make strides as a professional pitcher.
While Taillon and Cole spent time together in Bradenton in 2012, they became good friends on and off the field. Here’s a snippet from an article in the Post-Gazette from the spring.
The players spend time together off the field, golfing in Sarasota or fishing the nearby lakes, bringing home several filets that Cole cooked for the rest. They fit in well with the rest of the clubhouse despite the fact that their combined signing bonus money is more than the Oakland A’s starting rotation will earn this season. They are sometimes reminded of their status, such as when everything Cole used while throwing his first professional pitch was authenticated.
- Bill Brink, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Taillon is a power pitcher with a fastball that sits in the mid 90s and hits 98 with consistency. Coming out of high school, Taillon had the fastball, a hard curveball, a slider and a changeup. Taillon’s changeup was one of the pitches that set himself apart from most pitchers in the same draft class.
On the Farm
After pitching well for West Virginia in 2011, Taillon started the season in Bradenton before being moved to Class AA Altoona. Through three starts in Altoona, Taillon has pitched 17 innings and has surrendered only three runs. Taillon will finish the 2012 season with the Curve and could either start in AA or AAA come 2013.
*Target Date for Pittsburgh- July 2013 or later in season
Comparable Draft Picks
OF, Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals
The first overall selection in the 2010 draft, Harper, was fast-tracked to the majors and is now the Nationals starting center fielder. To start his professional career, Harper hit .318 with 14 home runs, 46 rbi and 19 stolen bases for Class A Hagerstown. Harper was promoted to AA Harrisburg for the final 40 games of 2011, where he hit .256 with three home runs and 12 rbi.
With only 37 games under his belt at the AA level, the Nationals decided to have him begin the 2012 season in AAA. After batting .243 through only 21 games at that level, Harper was called up to the majors due to injuries to several players. Since being called up, Harper has hit .250 with 14 home runs, 40 rbi and 13 stolen bases.
SS, Manny Machado, Baltimore Orioles
Also a high school talent like Taillon, Machado was selected directly behind Taillon and has been fast-tracked to the majors as well. After skipping triple-A, Machado now finds himself as the Orioles starting third baseman. Machado initially seemed to adjust to major league pitching just fine without playing at triple-A, but recently has cooled down.
Through Machado’s first four MLB games, he hit three home runs and drove in seven rbi, but in 14 games since has seen his average drop to .238 and has not hit a home run.
It is too early to tell if the Orioles rushed their future star to the show, but it is certainly not a practice the Pirates have shown willing to do.
SP, Drew Pomeranz, Colorado Rockies
After being drafted by the Indians, Pomeranz was traded to the Colorado Rockies in the Ubaldo Jimenez trade. Pomeranz attended college at Ole Miss and was the fifth overall pick in 2010. Pomeranz made only 30 starts in his minor league career before being called up to start for the Rockies. For comparison’s sake, Gerrit Cole has made 25 minor league starts and is not considered to be near the majors just yet.
While Pomeranz had much success in the minors, it has not translated over to the majors just yet. Through his first 20 starts in the show, Pomeranz is 3-9 with a 5.18 ERA.
All three of these selections were fast-tracked to the major leagues, something the Pirates have not shown willing to do and maybe in the long run will pay off for the Pirates.
Pittsburgh Arms Race
Image wallyg @ flickr