The Altoona Curve completed a three-game sweep of the Trenton Thunder on Sunday with a 2-1 victory, their fifth in a row. Top Pirates prospect Jameson Taillon started for the Curve, spreading out six singles over five innings while only surrendering one earned run in the no decision. Reliever Quinton Miller picked up the win with a scoreless 6th, while Jhonathan Ramos got the hold and Luis Sanz the save in a strong team pitching effort.
Offensively, Altoona managed only six hits, but benefited from four errors by the Thunder in the victory. Adalberto Santos and Gregory Polanco each had two hits, and Justin Howard had the only Curve RBI on a 2nd inning single, plating Jarek Cunningham who had doubled previously.
Taillon impressive in short outing
Despite giving up no earned runs (one unearned) and registering six strikeouts without allowing walk, Taillon was pulled at the end of the fifth inning after throwing only 72 pitches.
“He was on a pitch count because of the tightness in his neck, and we didn’t want to push him,” said manager Carlos Garcia, referring to the neck stiffness that kept Taillon from making his scheduled start last week. Taillon reported no discomfort with his neck tonight, but it is understandable that the organization exercised caution with the former first-round draft pick.
Taillon had some extra zip on his fastball tonight, sitting 96-97 mph into the fifth inning, and he kept the ball down in the zone consistently.
“I felt good. Honestly, I probably felt a little too good. But, I was down and had my mix working,” he said.
He added, “I actually used the two-seam fastball a little more than I had been in hitters counts. That’s why I got more groundballs tonight.”
Taillon’s two-seam fastball is a good pitch because it moves in on right-handed hitters with a bit of sink, so even if it doesn’t generate as many strikeouts as his four-seam fastball and curve ball, it is a difficult pitch to square up.
According to GM Neal Huntington, the key for Taillon to reach his ceiling is development of his full repertoire, including the change-up, the pitch he threw the least tonight.
“It’s the refinements to the total pitch package and use of the total pitch package. In Jameson’s case, it’s been primarily changeup. He’s got a good one. It’s the matter of picking when to use it, which hitters to use it against, which situation to use it. But then ultimately using it and trusting it and believing in it,” Huntington said.
Taillon has previously stated that the change-up is a focus and he threw close to ten of them tonight. His out pitch continues to be his 12-6 curveball, but continued development of the change-up will ultimately determine how good Taillon is in the big leagues.
**#2 prospect Gregory Polanco looks comfortable in AA, going 5-for-12 with two stolen bases in his first three games
** Starting pitcher Eliecer Navarro has joined the team will get his first start in AA next week.
** It was a busy night for Adalberto Santos. The third baseman had two hits and a walk and scored the eventual winning run on a close play at the plate following a Reggie Corona throwing error. He also committed two errors on defense.