One would think that a team losing for 20 years would have one of the best farm systems every year due to constantly having top-five draft picks. For the Pittsburgh Pirates, it wasn’t always like that. Until Neal Huntington took over as general manager in 2007, the Pirates didn’t have anything positive going for them. Huntington took over a bare system, and he now has one of the top-three systems in all of baseball.
One of his prized possessions is right-handed pitcher Jameson Taillon. Taillon is a big man, standing at 6-foot-6. He has the upside to be a true dominant MLB pitcher if he reaches his highest ceiling. To truly get a feel for how good Taillon is, one would have to watch him pitch. However, not everyone gets to see minor league baseball, so let’s try our best to break down what Taillon brings to the Pirates.
First, let’s learn about how Taillon reached the Pirates’ organization. He was drafted second overall in the 2010 MLB Draft out of The Woodlands High School in Texas. Due to him being drafted out of high school, he is still relatively young despite already being in the Pirates’ system for three seasons.
The statistics — In three minor league seasons, Taillon has compiled 382 innings, while pitching to a 3.72 ERA. He began his career with very good control, but his control got a bit worse in 2013, with 3.2 BB/9 in 147.1 innings. His career peripherals are 8.4 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9.
The arsenal — Taillon has a great fastball that he can crank up to reach 99-100 miles per hour. If he doesn’t need to reach back and blow it by someone, his fastball sits between 94 and 96 miles per hour. His fastball can be flat at times, but when he is going well, there is some solid movement to it. Nothing exceptional in terms of movement, but his outstanding speed allows him to get away with that most of the time. His curveball is his best pitch by far; it has tremendous break and it has tight spin with very good velocity for a breaking ball. He can throw it for a strike when he needs to, but he uses it mostly as a strikeout pitch. The Pirates make all of their pitchers learn to utilize a changeup, and while Taillon’s changeup is still a work in progress, the velocity on his fastball makes his changeup have great potential.
The projection — Taillon projects as a No. 2 starter with the Pirates. He has a chance to reach No. 1 status, but he will need to find a dominant third pitch for that to happen. By as early as mid-2014, Taillon could find himself in the Pirates’ rotation.