At the start of the week, Jameson Taillon received his second opinion on his injured right elbow. After the opinion the Pirates and Taillon were quiet as the Pirates decided the next step. Today we learned that Taillon will have Tommy John surgery.
Taillon was expected to arrive in Pittsburgh this year by mid-season, with the hope that he’d do his best Gerrit Cole impression and look like an ace by the end of the 2014 season. Now that he won’t be with the team, the Pirates will need someone else to step up and take his innings.
The team has a lot of depth, which I outlined after Taillon’s surgery was announced. They have a lot of guys who project as legit MLB starting pitchers, although none come with the same upside that Taillon has.
Obviously the best thing for the Pirates would be for as many pitchers to stay healthy as possible. But injuries are unavoidable, so the only thing the Pirates can hope for is that the injuries don’t go to the extremes that were seen last year.
Beyond that, the Pirates really need Edinson Volquez to step up this year with more outings like we saw today. Volquez looked great at times during Spring Training, and there were other times where he looked horrible. The key difference was his fastball command. His curveball and changeup are both excellent pitches, and were always consistent this Spring. However, when his fastball command wasn’t there, he had nothing to set those pitches up, which led to some pretty poor results. Today the fastball command was there, and we saw the results. He could surprise a lot of people if the command stays more consistent this year.
It’s not groundbreaking analysis to say that Edinson Volquez pitching well would ease the loss of Taillon. However, Volquez was seen as the weakest link in the rotation, and the top candidate to be replaced at mid-season by Taillon if everyone was healthy. With Taillon no longer available, the Edinson Volquez reclamation project just became more important.
The Pirates got off to a great start in the first week of their season, going 4-2 with series wins over the Cubs and Cardinals. We had photo recaps of the Opening Day Walk-Off Win, along with the big 12-2 victory over the Cardinals on Friday. After the 12-2 win, I wrote about the Pirates’ chances of contending with the Cardinals.
Here are all of the season preview articles, taking a look at each position group, along with overall team looks for 2014 and beyond:
- 21 Reasons Why the Pirates Are Going to Have Another Good Season in 2014
- Two Things That Will Keep the Pirates Contending in 2014 and Beyond
- The Pirates Rotation Has Some Red Flags, But Still Projects to Carry the Team
- The Pirates Won’t Have to Wait For Gregory Polanco to Have a Top Outfield
- Pirates Will Once Again Have Strong Infield Defense and Offensive Questions
- The Pirates are Returning a Bullpen That Was One of the Best in Baseball
- The Pirates Have a Bench That Can’t Hit Right-Handers
**On Saturday the Pirates announced Three-Year Extensions For Neal Huntington and Clint Hurdle. Last night I wrote about the moves, pointing out that the contracts line up with Andrew McCutchen’s deal, which pretty much defines a “window” for the Pirates to contend (if you believe in that sort of thing).
**Chris Stewart Hoping to Catch His First Game on Friday. Update on this: he caught five innings in today’s Bradenton Marauders game.
**Could all of the pre-free agency extensions given out recently mean The Death of Free Agency?
The Minor League season started on Thursday. To get you prepared for the season, here are our previews for each level, along with an article on breakout candidates with each team:
- 2014 Indianapolis Indians Season Preview
- 2014 Altoona Curve Season Preview
- 2014 Bradenton Marauders Season Preview
- 2014 West Virginia Power Season Preview
- Picking Two Pirates Breakout Candidates From Each Level
Each night we have a minor league report, called the Prospect Watch, which profiles what happened that day in the farm system. Here are the articles from this week. The Pirates got a lot of good pitching from their top pitching prospects, and not just the guys in the headlines below.
Here is the rest of the minor league news from this week:
**Updates on McPherson, Worley, Meadows and more. This included a note on Stetson Allie, who was about to join the Altoona roster. He has since joined Altoona.
I did a few updates on the site this week. I’m also in the process of adding writers at each level for the season. I’m hoping to announce those new writers in the upcoming weeks.
**How To Use and Navigate Pirates Prospects. A quick guide to help you navigating the site, and to introduce you to the site features.
**Pirates Prospects Shirts Are Now Available. Get your Pirates Prospects merchandise. All proceeds go to helping the site grow with new writers and new features.
The draft is now two months away and not much has changed among the overall picture. It’s still top-heavy with pitchers, both college and prep arms. More mock drafts are coming and we will see them even more often as the draft gets closer. What the new ones are showing is that even the best bats in the draft are slowly falling, especially the college bats. Even a few of the best prep bats have questions surrounding them, whether it relates to their bat or their ability to remain at a key defensive position. Pitching rules the first round, but will the Pirates go with the strength or take a bat before all the good ones are off the board? We will find out on June 5th.
**Draft Prospect Watch: New Mock Draft Has Pirates Taking Alex Blandino A new mock draft from this week has the Pirates taking Stanford third baseman Alex Blandino. There were two new mock drafts recently, the other had the Pirates taking Michael Gettys, a prep outfielder out of Georgia.
**Draft Prospect Watch: Hoffman vs Lemond Highlights Friday Night Former Pirates draft pick Zech Lemond goes up against one of the top college pitchers, Jeff Hoffman. Friday night was filled with strong pitching performances.
**Draft Prospect Watch: Carlos Rodon Has Trouble With Clemson Catching up on some of the best college hitters in this draft class.
**Draft Prospect Watch:Louisville’s Nick Burdi Is Worth Watching Recapping the weekend for some hitters, one top pitcher, two relievers and some former Pirates draft picks that didn’t sign.