Starting pitcher Jameson Taillon pitched well for the Pittsburgh Pirates in one start this spring and then made another fantastic start for Team Canada in the World Baseball Classic.
Even though the right-hander has shown plenty of potential, do not expect to see him on Pittsburgh’s Opening Day roster. The Pirates have a pretty good idea of what their starting rotation is going to look like and Taillon simply does not fit in the team’s plans for right now. Even if he pitches lights out the next time he takes the mound for Pittsburgh, it will still not be enough.
The reason for this is because it is critical he spend more time in the minors where he can make consistent appearances. Not to mention, he needs to improve his numbers before he steps foot in a regular season big league game. Taillon went 9-8 with a 3.55 earned run average, 116 strikeouts and 142 innings in 26 starts in only his second year in the minors last season. These statistics do not jump off of the page by any means, especially since they took place in High-A and Double-A. However, in all fairness he did win three games and surrender only three earned runs in 17 innings at the higher of the two levels.
More importantly, Taillon allowed only one run, one walk and struck out three batters in a start against the Boston Red Sox on Feb. 28. Then in an elimination game against Team USA in the WBC, he gave up two runs (one earned) on four hits while striking out three in four innings. He displayed great stuff, including an impressive curveball that struck out Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Braun and Shane Victorino –three very talented hitters that would have intimidated most 21-year-old pitchers.
The fact of the matter is Taillon has clear athletic ability and enough potential to become a very valuable asset for the Pirates in the near future. There is no reason to rush him into the majors when Pittsburgh is still a couple of years away from contending in the National League Central.
A year from now when the Pirates conclude their 2014 training camp it may not be surprising to see Taillon on the MLB roster, but I would not expect him to be called up at any point this season.