There is an old adage that good things come to those who wait. The Pittsburgh Pirates haven’t been good for a long time. In fact, every Pirates fan knows it has been 20 years since the team last posted a winning record with Andy Van Slyke, Bobby Bonilla, Doug Drabek and Barry Bonds headlining the roster. For years the Pirates squandered their top picks on forgettable names like Bryan Bullington. Now, however, the Pirates seem to finally be moving in the right direction and Pirates fans will start to see some good things happen fairly soon.
The top two prospects for the Pirates are both right-handed pitchers. Jameson Taillon and Gerrit Cole. Taillon was selected with the second overall pick in 2010 and could become a number one starter for the Pirates. Cole, drafted first overall in 2011 should be challenging Taillon for Opening Day starts in no time but it is Taillon who could soon be making an impact at PNC Field.
Taillon, listed at 6’5”, 225 pounds has a free and easy throwing motion that he is able to repeat, something that can be a problem for taller pitchers. He has excellent command of four good pitches. His fastball, which is his best pitch, can get up to 99 MPH but sits 94-96 with some life. His curveball can be devastating with tight spin and both a horizontal and vertical break. This will be his bread and butter pitch, the one he uses to send hitters back to the bench.
Taillon could make his MLB debut this season but will probably start in Double-A and earn a quick promotion to Triple-A if he continues to dominate. It will be important for the Pirates not to rush him. They are not going to contend this year for a playoff spot and the future of the franchise is not worth risking Taillon’s long-term development even if the Pirates make the playoffs.
Good things come to those who wait and the Pirates could soon be featuring a rotation of Taillon and Cole. Now, if only they had been able to sign Mark Appel, their number one pick last season, we could be talking about a stellar rotation in three years. However, Pirates fans will be thankful enough for Taillon and Cole.