For most teams, losing a prospect with the talent of Jameson Taillon would be crippling for its farm system. For the Pittsburgh Pirates, it is certainly a large hit, but it isn’t the end of the world. The Pirates have one of the best minor league systems in baseball, and the loss of Taillon for 12-18 months is a large setback, but the system still looks great regardless.
The news that Taillon will need Tommy John Surgery is particularly saddening because the big right-handed pitcher was expected to help the Pirates at the MLB level at some point this season. Now, with the previously mentioned 12-18 month recovery period, we can’t realistically expect to see Taillon until the 2016 season. Even if Taillon pitches in 2015, it will be at Triple-A.
With Taillon now not in the Pirates’ plans for 2014, or even 2015, the pitching depth that was once a strength is now a concern. Behind their starting rotation, the Pirates now have Jeff Locke, Brandon Cumpton, Stolmy Pimentel and Jeanmar Gomez. Other options could include Phil Irwin and Casey Sadler. While these are all solid options, most likely as potential fourth and fifth starters, none of them provide the ace-upside that Taillon has.
While some teams would tend to rush a top prospect back from surgery, Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said when he announced the diagnosis on Sunday that Taillon will not be rushed. In fact, the Pirates will prefer to wait closer to 18 months for Taillon to return, rather than the more aggressive return time of 12 months. In the long-term, it is obviously in the best interest of both the Pirates and Taillon to wait the 18 months, but it is a shame that it had to happen to such a promising young arm. Get well soon, Jameson.