The Pirates Prospects 2012 Prospect Guide is now available, featuring over 250 prospect reports, the 2012 top 50 prospects, a feature on the top four pitching prospects in the system, and the most comprehensive coverage of the Pirates’ farm system that you can find. While the top 50 prospects are exclusive to the book, we will be releasing the top ten prospects over the next week. Be sure to purchase your copy of the book on the products page of the site.
To recap the countdown so far:
10. Nick Kingham
7. Tony Sanchez
5. Luis Heredia
4. Josh Bell
We continue the countdown with the number two prospect, Jameson Taillon.
2. Jameson Taillon, RHP
After spending a month in extended Spring Training, Taillon made his much anticipated pro debut in West Virginia in 2011. The results weren’t the dominant numbers you’d expect from the top pitching prospect, but his ratios were strong, and his arsenal lived up to the hype that made him one of the top pitching prospects in the game.
Taillon spent most of his season focused on fastball command. He was hit around in high school due to elevating his upper 90s fastball. He elevated the pitch by adding a hop in the back of his stance, and the Pirates worked to remove that from his game. He had some issues elevating pitches in West Virginia, but got better as the season went on. He has a drop-and-drive delivery, with some scouts questioning whether he can ever pitch at the knees, due to that style leading to elevated pitches.
He sits in the mid-90s with his fastball, touching 99 MPH during the 2011 season. He’s still young, and could have the chance to sit in the upper 90s, much like Gerrit Cole currently does. The focus on Taillon’s fastball prevented him from using his curveball as often. His curve is already a Major League pitch, with one American League scout calling it the best in the game. The pitch was unhittable to low-A batters, and if he was given the chance to use it more often, his ERA might have been below a 2.00. He is also working on his changeup, a pitch that he didn’t have much use for in high school.
Taillon profiles as a top of the rotation starter. He drew comparisons to Josh Beckett out of high school, with some saying he was better than Beckett was at the same age. His 2011 season was about fastball command, but also about getting him adjusted to the pro life. He will move up to Bradenton in 2012, and could start moving through the system faster, depending on his results. In a best case scenario, Taillon could arrive in the majors by the 2013 All-Star break. That would require him getting off to a hot start in Bradenton, followed by spending half a season in Altoona. A more conservative approach has him arriving in 2014.