For the first time in a long time the Pittsburgh Pirates and their fans have something to look forward to. The 19 consecutive losing season streak may not come to an end this season but hope is most assuredly on the horizon. The Pirates have two of the top 11 prospects in all of the game and both could be difference makers sooner rather than later.
Leading up to the 2010 Major League draft some were wondering whether Jameson Taillon was the one of the greatest high school pitching prospects they had ever seen. It got to the point where some were wondering whether or not he could go number one over some guy named Bryce Harper. In the end Taillon was taken with the second overall pick by the Pirates. Gerrit Cole was the Yankees first round pick in 2008(28thoverall) but chose not to sign, a wise choice on his part because after three seasons at UCLA Cole was selected first overall by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Cole and Taillon will no doubt be tied to each other throughout their time in the minor leagues; Baseball America ranked Gerrit Cole as the Pirates top prospect followed by Taillon but MLB.com’s Jonathon Mayo ranked Taillon the eighth overall prospect in baseball and Cole eleventh. The hope in Pittsburgh is that both can reach their full potential as front line starters but the question must be asked, who is the better prospect?
Jameson Taillon – He has tremendous size for a pitcher at 6’6” and 230 pounds with extremely long limbs. He is lean but solidly built with some room left to grow into his long frame. As he matures he could end up with a comparable frame to Adam Wainwright.
Gerrit Cole – Cole also has outstanding size at 6’4” and 220 pounds. He is already a beast with a strong upper and lower body; there is still some room to grow in his lower half. He has the build of a future workhorse. By the time he is Major League ready he should have a comparable build to Josh Beckett.
Advantage – TOSS UP
Jameson Taillon – He has an explosive fastball with movement and was touching 99 mph coming out of high school. As a professional he has been able to maintain it deep into starts and can use his frame as leverage to create tremendous downward plane.
Gerrit Cole – On arm strength alone Cole would probably win this. He has touched 100 and there were rumors that he hit 103 mph on a few guns, he usually sits in the mid 90’s during games. He had some control problems due to mechanical issues his junior year at UCLA that caused him to become hittable but so far that has not seemed to be a problem as a professional.
Advantage – Taillon – His movement and similar velocity at a young age give him the upper hand.
Jameson Taillon – Taillon has two breaking pitches and both are plus pitches. His curveball sits in the low to mid 80’s with great depth; a true 12 to 6 curve. His second breaking ball can be untouchable at times. The slider sits in the mid to high 80’s and has outstanding lateral movement and could be a second strikeout pitch along with his fastball.
Gerrit Cole – He only has one breaking ball but like Taillon it is plus and a true strikeout pitch. His slider is harder than Taillon’s, sitting in the high 80’s consistently.
Advantage – Taillon – He has two plus breaking pitches and his slider can be unhittable at times.
Jameson Taillon – Taillon has a feel for the pitch but like many high school aces didn’t need to use it much. Thus he still needs to work on the pitch but down the road it could become a fourth offering to throw for strikes.
Gerrit Cole – Cole has a power change that sits in the high 80’s to low 90’s. It is a definite plus pitch with nice downward movement.
Advantage – Cole – With his velocity, having a power change could become deadly as hitters will have trouble timing it. A true out pitch.
Jameson Taillon – He can throw all four of his pitches for strikes but Taillon does suffer from control issues like any young pitcher. He has a slight drop and drive delivery (not as pronounced as Josh Beckett) so he has a tendency to elevate his pitches from time to time. He can also get on the side of the ball on some of his pitches.
Gerrit Cole – At times Cole tends to catch a lot the plate, which was his problem in the later part of his junior year at UCLA. He has solid control but at times his pitches are flat. Outside of a poor showing in the Arizona Fall League All-Star game it didn’t really affect him as a professional in 2011. If he repeats his delivery his command is fine.
Advantage – Cole – When he is on, he’s on. He is a smart pitcher and usually repeats his delivery well. Taillon’s control issues aren’t really a huge problem, just something to work on but right now Cole gets the nod.
So who gets the nod? In the end it doesn’t matter who the better prospect is. The Pittsburgh Pirates have themselves two pitchers with number one starter potential and both are predicted to reach the Major Leagues at some point during the 2013 season.
Two years, two pitchers and possibly the beginning of the turnaround so many in Pittsburgh have been waiting for. The Pirates may not be winners in 2012 but the future looks bright for the black and yellow