These days Tommy John Surgery almost seems like a right of passage for pitchers, but that doesn’t make it sting any less. The top pitching prospect in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization, Jameson Taillon, will have to go under the knife and have his elbow repaired.
The 2013 season marked the end of a two decade rut for the Pirates in which they not only had not made the playoffs, but had not had a winning record. The Pirates roster has plenty of reason for optimism as it features the reigning NL MVP, Andrew McCutchen, and stars in the making, Starling Marte and Gerrit Cole. The Pirates also feature one of the best farm systems in baseball, with many guys on the verge of making an impact at the big league level.
Taillon was expected to be an arm added to the roster late in the season that could have a big impact in the pennant race, but instead will not throw a pitch this season. In fact, given the timing of the surgery, his big league debut may very well be pushed back all the way to 2016. Tommy John Surgery typically holds a pitcher out of game action for 12-18 months, meaning it is not unlikely we don’t see Taillon pitch again in the minors until the middle of next season.
Before the season, we had Taillon ranked as the second best prospect in the Pirates system, as did most other outlets, but with such a strong system, this setback might cause him to dip in the 2015 rankings.
The future of the Pirates rotation is still bright, as it will someday feature Cole, Taillon, and big right-hander Tyler Glasnow, but we unfortunately all have to wait a while before seeing Taillon toe the rubber again.