Top pitching prospects Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon are both off to strong starts in high-A Bradenton. After Sunday’s start, Cole has a 3.54 ERA in 28 innings during his first professional season, with a 34:10 K/BB ratio. He has struck out at least a batter an inning in each of his six starts on the year.
Taillon’s numbers have been more impressive, with a 1.76 ERA in 30.2 innings, along with a 33:6 K/BB ratio. The 2010 first round pick has pitched six innings in each of his last two starts, and has been dominating hitters, with a .171 BAA on the season.
“They’re pounding the strike zone. They’ve used their stuff well,” Neal Huntington said. “Two reasons why you have pitch counts: One is to protect and grow and develop and build up for a marathon. And the other is to teach them and force them to be efficient and effective in their pitches. You hear Clint talk about it almost every night, the number of outs on three or less pitches. It’s something we are trying to build through our system. I know people hate pitch counts, but when you have to go out there, if you want to get a win, or get into the sixth or seventh inning, you have to be effective on an 85 pitch count.”
The strong numbers from each player raise the question as to when they could be moved up to Double-A.
“As a director of player development, assistant GM or a GM, you want guys to make guys to make your decisions harder,” Huntington said on a possible promotion for either player. “They’re certainly working at that. They are on the right track.”
Kyle McPherson On a Throwing Program
Kyle McPherson has been out since late in Spring Training with shoulder inflammation. Surgery is not an option for McPherson, and he is currently on a throwing program.
“Kyle just continues to go through his strengthening program, his throwing program,” Huntington said. “Then we’ll get him back off mounds. In hindsight, we probably should have been a little more conservative with it out of the chute the first time the shoulder barked on him. He and we both felt that it wasn’t that significant, and it came back. The inflammation came back, the discomfort came back, so now we took a much more conservative path to it.”
McPherson is throwing, which is a good sign for his shoulder health, although it could take some time for him to return. He went down during Spring Training, which means he never really was fully prepared for the season to begin with. Now he’s missed a month of the season, putting him further behind schedule.
“It just [takes] time,” Huntington said on his return. “No different from what we experienced with A.J. Burnett. Once you get healthy, now you got to build up to where you can get out and start. We’re going to go through a little bit here with Jeff Karstens. He’s on a throwing program. He’s feeling good, but now we need to build him back up to a starters workload.”
Josh Bell Rehabbing
Josh Bell had meniscus surgery last week, and is currently rehabbing in Bradenton. As for his potential return, the Pirates haven’t announced a specific time table.
“It’s a grey area,” Huntington said. “We’ve been hit hard when we’ve missed trying to give grey area, black-and-white tones. We’re going to stay very grey on this one. Josh is progressing well. He’s feeling good. We look forward to getting him back in strength and conditioning activities once we get through the rehab. And then back to baseball activities, back on the field this summer.”