Top pitching prospects Jameson Taillon and Stetson Allie took the mound today for their first starts at Pirate City this Spring. Both pitchers struggled in different ways, with both leaving their starts early in the fourth inning of action.
Taillon was hit hard throughout the start. In the first inning he gave up a solo home run, and was sitting 96-97 MPH with his fastball. The second inning started off rough. After a four pitch walk, Taillon gave up back-to-back hard hit doubles, followed by a line drive single up the middle. He recovered with a double play and a strikeout to get out of the frame.
He gave up a double in the third inning, but didn’t allow the runner to score. He came out for the fourth inning and faced one batter, throwing inside and getting a weak broken bat ground out back to the mound, before being lifted due to his pitch count.
The 2010 first round pick finished with four runs allowed on six hits in 3.1 innings, along with three walks and two strikeouts. He threw 62 pitches, with 31 going for strikes. He was throwing 95-96 MPH in the fourth inning, holding his velocity throughout the start.
Allie had better results overall than Taillon, but struggled a bit with his control. In the first inning he walked the leadoff batter on a full count. None of the pitches were too far off the plate, and ball three was questionable. The runner advanced to second on a stolen base, then moved to third on a ground out. Allie followed that up with two strikeouts to end the inning. His command looked strong in the first. Video of the inning can be seen below.
That command started fading a bit in the second inning. Allie allowed a leadoff walk, then followed it up with a strikeout. He repeated the sequence with another walk, followed by another strikeout. He was lifted from the inning due to his single inning pitch count.
Allie escaped a jam in the third inning, thanks to a great play by Dan Gamache at second base. He gave up a broken bat single to the leadoff hitter, which was the first hit of the day. A wild pick off throw allowed the runner to advance to second, and a wild pitch moved the runner to third. Allie got a pop up to first base, then walked the next batter, putting runners at first and third with one out. A hard hit line drive up the middle looked like it could do some damage, but Gamache ranged over, already moving on a stolen base attempt, and made the catch, following it up with an easy toss to first base to get the runner.
The fourth inning was short for Allie. He started off with his fifth strikeout of the day. That was followed up with a single and a walk. Trent Stevenson came on in relief, and got the first hitter he faced to ground in to a double play.
Allie finished with 3.1 shutout innings, allowing two hits, five walks, and striking out five. He threw 64 pitches, with 33 going for strikes. His fastball was 93-96 MPH, and his slider ranged from 82-86 MPH, with 8 of 12 sliders going for strikes. The pitches that weren’t strikes were low and away sliders where Allie was trying to get the batter to chase.
Taillon was elevating his pitches a bit today, and his curve was low and away in the dirt at times. Allie had some control issues, but they weren’t horrible, as he was mostly around the plate. His slider was dominant today, and no one could touch his fastball when he threw it for strikes, with just some weak contact. I’ve talked about Allie’s improvements a lot, but the improvements got confirmation today. Wilbur Miller was also watching, and after the first inning of work he commented to me: “That’s not the same guy as last year.” You can check out Wilbur’s recap of the day here.
CARLOS PAULINO’S CANNON FOR AN ARM
Catcher Carlos Paulino was putting on a show behind the plate today. Two runners tried to steal on Paulino, and both were gunned down by perfect throws. The first runner was caught when Paulino fired a throw to the second base side of the bag, perfectly placed to allow the fielder to catch and make the tag at the same time. The pop time on the throw to second was 1.71. The play was close, and the out could only be made by such a strong throw.
Paulino almost picked off a runner at second later in the inning. Later in the game he caught his second runner stealing second, this time firing a straight shot down to the second base bag, beating the runner by a mile. This time he flashed a 1.61 pop time.
The 20-80 scouting scale considers a pop time below 1.7 to be an 80, which is a plus arm. I’ve seen Paulino make some amazing throws this Spring, so I didn’t really need the times as confirmation that he has a plus arm. Probably the worst thing about the disappointing season that Tony Sanchez had in 2011 is that his return to Altoona this year will keep Carlos Paulino in high-A for the start of the season.
**Gregory Polanco showed some good hitting skills today, both in batting practice, and in the game. He also showed a lot of range in center field.
**I didn’t get a stat line for Trent Stevenson, but from what I saw he had a strong outing. He threw a few innings after taking over for Allie, and got a few strikeouts with his slider. He wasn’t throwing hard, but he had some deception with his delivery.
**Jose Morales caught Stetson Allie’s game. He did a good job blocking pitches when Allie’s slider was low and away in the dirt. He also crushed a grand slam to right field later in the game.
**Drew Maggi also homered today, hitting one off Toronto’s 2009 first round pick Deck McGuire.
**Carlos Paulino wasn’t the only catcher showing off a strong arm. Elias Diaz also flashed his strong arm, picking off a runner at first base.
VIDEO OF THE DAY
Stetson Allie’s first inning, which featured one walk, followed by a ground out, then two of his strikeouts.