The Pittsburgh Pirates have drafted high school pitcher Jameson Taillon (click his name to go to his BUCCO Fans player page) with their first pick, number two overall, in the 2010 MLB draft. Taillon was rated the number two prospect in the draft by Baseball America, behind Bryce Harper and one ahead of high school shortstop Manny Machado. Harper went first overall to the Washington Nationals, leaving the Pirates with a choice between Taillon and Machado.
Taillon has been compared to former Texas prep pitching prospect Josh Beckett, and it would be amazing if he lived up to that potential. I don’t expect Taillon to be in the majors as quickly as Beckett arrived. Beckett was drafted in the first round in 1999, coincidentally with the second overall pick, then made his debut in A-ball in 2000, pitching half a season at the level. Beckett pitched between high-A and AA in 2001, then received a September call-up. From there, Beckett continued his career in the majors, starting with the 2002 season.
Taillon will probably take the same approach that Quinton Miller took last year, and the same approach that Zach Von Rosenberg is taking this year. He will likely start the 2011 season in Extended Spring Training, then pitch half a season in low-A ball. From there he could take the same path as Beckett, although I don’t see him jumping from AA to the majors. Then again, a lot of talk I’ve heard recently has said Taillon could advance through the minors at the same pace as a college pitcher, partly due to his 6′ 6″, 225 pound frame.
Taillon won’t have that same luxury as a prep player. He has a commitment to Rice, but he won’t be eligible to re-enter the draft until 2013. Taillon could go to JuCo in order to re-enter the 2011 draft, but he would pass up his scholarship to Rice, and isn’t a guarantee to get what the Pirates could be offering at number two, as the 2011 draft class is much more talented than the 2010 draft class. With a fair offer, the Pirates should have no problem signing Taillon. My guess is that he could receive something in the range of what Tyler Matzek ($3.9 M) and Jacob Turner ($4.7 M) received last year, although I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets $5 M with the Beckett comparisons.