The Pittsburgh Pirates are in the midst of a banner season, already breaking their 20-year streak of losing seasons, but they didn’t jeopardize the future to go all in in 2013.
The organization could have dealt prospects away at the deadline to make improvements and really press the issue this season, but holding their prized pieces gives the Pirates a greater chance to not just break their down streak this year, but potentially start a sustained string of success.
One player who is expected to be a huge piece of the future in Pittsburgh is pitcher Jameson Taillon. The No. 2 pick of the 2010 Draft behind Bryce Harper, Taillon got his first taste of Triple-A this season.
Taillon, 21, posted a 3.73 ERA and averaged 8.7 K/9 over 147 ⅓ innings between Double-A and Triple-A. One knock against the 6-foot-6, 235-pounder is that his control leaves a little to be desired. Taillon averaging 3.9 BB/9 over six starts after being promoted.
The Indians were swept of of the postseason by the Durham Bulls (TB), but Taillon made an impression in what ended up being Indianapolis’ 2013 finale Friday night. Forced to come out of the bullpen with Wandy Rodriguez making a rehab start, Taillon threw five shutout innings of one-hit ball while striking out five batters. Control was an issue, however, as Taillon also issued five free passes.
Some have complained that Taillon isn’t as dominant as you’d like to see in a top pitching prospect, but the same could have been said about fellow Pirates prospect Gerrit Cole, who’s holding his own with the big club.
Anyone who questions whether Taillon’s stuff can be dominant need only see the following video highlights to be convinced otherwise.
Despite possessing a fastball he can pump in the upper 90s, Taillon’s curveball is considered by some to be his best pitch. This highlight shows why. Mike Fontenot’s reaction is pretty classic. He just surrenders his bat in frustration and disbelief as if to say “just take this, I can’t do anything with it anyway.”
Here’s another great example of how silly Taillon can make a hitter look with that curveball. The replay from the third base dugout shows how lost Kevin Kiermaier was. He started his swing, stopped, then just flailed at the pitch. Just ugly.
Taillon made a start for team Canada against the United States at this year’s World Baseball Classic, giving up two runs (one earned) on four hits and a walk while striking out three (Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Braun and Shane Victorino to be precise). It may not be long before Taillon is facing major leaguers on a regular basis.
If all goes well, who knows. Maybe he’ll be on the Cole track and earn a call up next June. Either way, the one-two combo of Cole and Taillon figures to give the Pirates a great chance at a bright future.