AFL Recap: Jameson Taillon Looks Good in Season Opener

The Arizona Fall League season began Tuesday night with Jameson Taillon getting the Opening Day nod for the Scottsdale Scorpions. The Pittsburgh Pirates have sent seven players to the league and the three top prospects among that group were in the starting lineup. Another two Pirates players would get into the game before the night was done.

Jameson Taillon

Jameson Taillon got the AFL Opening Day start Tuesday night

Jameson Taillon gave up a lead-off single, followed by a stolen base on the next pitch. He quickly settled down and got a ground out, strikeout and another ground out to end the inning with no damage. In that first inning, he threw 16 pitches, 12 for strikes.

Taillon came out for the second inning with a 1-0 lead to work with. He walked the first batter, who stole second base, then Taillon recorded two straight strikeouts. On the second strikeout, he gave up his third stolen base and the runner ended up scoring on a throwing error by the catcher. Taillon finished the inning and his night with a first pitch grounder to second base. He threw a total of 35 pitches on the night, 23 for strikes. He allowed one hit, one unearned run, one walk and struck out three batters.

Keith Law tweeted that Taillon was sitting 94-96 MPH, while Bernie Pleskoff said he hit 97 MPH and showed good secondary stuff.

Alen Hanson started at shortstop and batted second in the lineup. He struck out in both his first and second at-bats. In his third time up, Hanson had a bunt single, but he was thrown out attempting to steal. Leading off the seventh, he reached base for the second time, drawing a walk.  Hanson came up in the ninth with no outs, a man on first base and his team down 5-4. After a balk moved the runner up, Hanson put a bunt down to get the runner to third, but ended up reaching on a single and the runner from second scored on a throwing error to tie the game. Hanson would steal second base, then score the go-ahead run on a double from the next hitter.

On defense, Hanson made a throwing error on a double play in the fifth inning. He handled all three grounders hit his way cleanly.

Alex Dickerson was in the DH spot, batting fifth. Like Hanson, Dickerson also struck out in his first time up. He would draw a walk in his second plate appearance. Dickerson struck out looking in the sixth inning. In the seventh, with two outs and Hanson on first base, Dickerson grounded out to end the inning. He worked the count all night, seeing a total of 28 pitches in his five PA’s, but Dickerson still ended up with three strikeouts after going down swinging in the ninth inning.

Zack Thornton came in to pitch the sixth inning for Scottsdale. He struck out the first two batters he faced, then got a grounder to third base to retire the side in order.

Matt Benedict became the third Pirates pitcher to take the mound when he came in for the seventh inning. He retired the first two batters on just three pitches, getting a line out and a grounder. Benedict needed six pitches to retire the last batter, ending the inning with another groundball.

Scottsdale won the game over Salt River by a 6-5 score.

John Dreker

Author: John Dreker

John was born in Kearny, NJ, hometown of the 2B for the Pirates 1909 World Championship team, Dots Miller. In fact they have some of the same relatives in common, so it was only natural for him to become a lifelong Pirates fan. Before joining Pirates Prospects in July 2010, John had written numerous articles on the history of baseball while also releasing his own book and co-authoring another on the history of the game. He writes a weekly article on Pirates history for the site, has already interviewed many of the current minor leaguers with many more on the way and follows the foreign minor league teams very closely for the site. John also provides in person game reports of the West Virginia Power and Altoona Curve.

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  • emjayinTN

    John: Thanks for the summary and especially the velocity numbers. The box score looked good, but it does not give those numbers. At 94 – 97 mph, with reasonable command for the first outing in more than 30 days, so make sure we jot that name into the Pirates Rotation in June 2014, with Gregory Polanco making the same jump. Two Walks, two stolen bases – is anybody thinking he is too slow to the plate, or is it a combination of things?

    • Kevin_Young

      Yea, I don’t know if I’ve ever seen his time to the plate, so if anybody has that clocked I’d be curious as well.

      • John Dreker

        I’m not sure if it is just his time to the plate or the fact that the Pirates usually don’t like their pitchers worrying about the baserunners too much early in their career. They want them to focus on the hitters and their pitching. The holding of runners is something they focus more on as the get closer to the majors. I don’t have his 2013 numbers off-hand, but prior to this season, in 2011-12 combined, Taillon allowed 54 stolen bases on 60 attempts over 49 starts. I have time now, so I’ll find or figure out his 2013 numbers, but I’m willing to bet his % is lower than Altoona’s 25% caught stealing rate on the season.

        • John Dreker

          Here are Taillon’s SB numbers from this year and he had five different catchers, who all caught him at least twice, so it isn’t just the catcher’s fault. With Altoona, in 20 games, he allowed 32 SB in 36 attempts. With Indianapolis, runners went 8-for-9 off him, same 11% CS rate as Altoona. That is a lot of stolen bases and something he is going to need to work on. The AFL would actually be a good place for him to do that, but chances are it will be something he works on in ST and Indy before he gets called up. There will probably be a heavier emphasis on it this upcoming season as opposed to the past.

          • emjayinTN

            John: Thank you. The numbers alone speak volumes – he does need work on that aspect of his game, but I would rather it be something he works with during the off-season or even going into camp a week earlier. I do not think the Scottsdale team has any Pirate pitching coaches, so I would rather he worked with them.

            • John Dreker

              The Scottsdale pitching coach is Stan Kyles, who was Taillon’s pitching coach most of this season with Altoona

          • Kevin_Young

            Thanks for looking into that. I guess as far as a checklist goes, that would be right towards the bottom on the development chart, but definitely something that needs work.

            • Kevin_Young

              It looks like Cole’s CS% improved this year in the majors, so it stands to reason that we’d see something similar from Taillon (although he’s a little worse at it probably).

            • smurph

              With the velocity he has, the slide step delivery would certainly be an answer. He does have a very long stride, so hopefully the slide step would not mess with his delivery of the ball.