Jameson Taillon Ranks Fifth Among Right-Handed Pitching Prospects

On Wednesday, MLB.com released their list of top ten right-handed pitching prospects in baseball and Jameson Taillon was fifth on the list. On the previously released lists, Alen Hanson was named the eighth best shortstop and the Pittsburgh Pirates didn’t have anyone among the top ten left-handed pitchers.

Jameson Taillon ranked fifth among RHP prospects
Jameson Taillon ranked fifth among RHP prospects

First the omission. Tyler Glasnow didn’t make the top ten despite an amazing season at West Virginia as a 20-year-old. Glasnow was however mentioned in the “next wave” section and he was only one of two players mentioned, so that likely means he was considered strongly for the tenth spot. He average 13.3 K/9 during the regular season this year, posting a 2.18 ERA and a .142 BAA.

As for Jameson Taillon, the ranking in the top ten shouldn’t come as any surprise. He has been rated among the top twenty prospects in the game since being drafted and he has the pitching arsenal to be a front line starter, possibly as soon as this July. Taillon will start the season in Indianapolis, where he went 1-3, 3.89 in six regular season starts and he also threw five shutout innings in his only playoff appearance.

A surprise among the rankings for Taillon, might be that he had the lowest rated fastball among the group of ten pitchers. On the 20-80 scouting scale, he was rated a 65, while the others were all 70, except Jonathan Gray, who got an 80. Taillon throws 94-97 MPH and has hit triple digits, so the low rating seems to be unjust.

Taillon was recently invited to Spring Training and while he has no shot of making the big league club on Opening Day, he isn’t far off either. He suffered a minor setback during the Arizona Fall League, when he had a minor groin injury that limited him to two innings, but he is healthy and ready to go for the 2014 season.

Tomorrow’s top ten list will be catchers, where Reese McGuire is a possibility. Friday is first baseman, an obvious weak spot in the Pirates farm system.

  • If we took Taillon over Harper, I would have started a mutiny

  • – So here comes where Cole plays in, and i know Tim has mentioned this on numerous occasions. In the minors, we are NOT allowing our pitchers to pitch like they would otherwise. Rather than going out with hopes of dominating or smoking their opponents, they are given specific homework, being forced to focus on using the pitches they are the worst at, rather than pitching the best game they can. Its a great way to teach, and the results are when Cole comes up and does realistically 5 times better than anyone would have expected based off of his minor league stats. Don’t be disappointed in him (taillon), other teams don’t use this same approach so comparing his results to other top draft picks or basing it off of how quickly they get there has little to do with taillon and everything to do with the coaches and philosophy of the organization. I have little doubt Taillon can be a strong #2 on most staffs in major league baseball barring injury or a velocity loss (like lincecum) which is unlikely due to his strong frame

    • Can you imagine how poor a hitters numbers would look in the minors if an organization said:

      “Ok, you need to work on hitting offspeed pitches — don’t swing at a single fastball until otherwise instructed. We don’t care about the count, the score of the game, or the league standings”

      The guy’s numbers would probably be attrocious, rather than “pedestian,” as we’ve seen with Taillon and Cole.

      It’s a pretty outlandish comparison, but taking away a guy’s out-pitch similarly handicaps him. Numbers will suffer, but as long as it makes a more complete player out of him, who cares?

      • “but as long as it makes a more complete player out of him, who cares?”
        The stats geeks and the media that don’t see these players and don’t ask the right questions when they talk to Pirate personnel and then go on talk shows and tell everyone about team A’s top pick and how great he is doing even though he got drafted after the Pirate guy, guys like Post Gazette writers, and everyone on 93.7 the fan.

        • rhe·tor·i·cal adjective \ri-ˈtȯr-i-kəl, -ˈtär-\ : of, relating to, or concerned with the art of speaking or writing formally and effectively especially as a way to persuade or influence people

          of a question : asked in order to make a statement rather than to get an answer

  • I understand the lower grade for his fastball as there’s the common criticism that he has a tendency to leave it up and allow it to flatten out. He’ll probably have to show he can consistently avoid that to get past that perception. I’m struck by the low grade on his curveball. Anything I’ve read has seemed to rate it as a plus pitch, while here only Walker has a lower rated curve. Does anyone know if there are reports that it is not a plus pitch?

  • As a side issue,I just hear Ray Searage tell MLB XM he is about sure that AJ is thinking family more than money.

    • Neal Huntington was on the radio a couple hours ago and said he doesn’t have anything new on A.J. but if he wants to come back, they have a spot for him and no immediate timetable for him to decide

      • I still think that a Clemens-like understanding is a possibility where AJ stays in shape and, if he wants to return around the All Star break, they sit down and discuss money and role. That give AJ family time and spares him the strain of a full season. PIT gets to see where they stand with their starting rotation without him.
        AJ doesn’t need the money and the Pirates don’t necessarily NEED his arm. It would be mutually beneficial flexibility.

  • I have a feeling with Taillon it’ll be different once the training wheels come off. They restricted Cole a bit, same thing here.

    Man, it is super exciting to be “worried” about this kinda stuff! Love it!

  • I think Taillon and Glasnow will be the most interesting pitchers to look at this year. Taillon, for the obvious reason that he’s likely to be called up at some point during the 2014 season. Those guys always make it exciting, and gives us all a chance to see what they can do.
    But Glasnow, I’m interested to see what improvements he can make in regards to the BB’s. And I suppose I’m talking about him striking out eleventy batters per 9. I guess this leads to a question about Glasnow and his K’s, as it might. Is it due to the height and the plane on his FB? It strikes me that his breaking ball and change are good, but they aren’t other-worldly either. Deception in his delivery makes it hard to pick the ball up? I wonder if this year, we see a sharp drop in the K rate in an effort to get the BB’s at a better level, and that’s more of the process at work.

    • I think part of Glasnow’s success is that he has a bit of wildness and that makes the batters uncomfortable at the plate. You have a 6’7″ pitcher coming at you throwing 96+ with a big breaking curve ball and some control issues. Not only is it tough to catch up to a fastball that speed when the pitcher is right on top of you, but batters have no chance adjusting for the curve and the big discrepancy between the two pitches. I’ve seen 96 MPH followed by 75 MPH. When you throw in the wildness, you have batters that are not too anxious to dig in.

      I think his K rate is bound to go down as you face better/older hitters, but I think he will walk less and hopefully get a better grasp of the change-up and use it as a third weapon. Right now, his change-up has the tendency to just act as an 88-90 MPH fastball and those slow bats that were always behind on his fastball, can catch up to that. He got better with it as the season went on and I’ve seen first-hand the work he puts into the pitch in the bullpen, getting more comfortable using it in important spots

      • As a side note, I think Nick Kingham is one that people should keep their eyes on. I saw him twice in WV in 2012 and once last year in Altoona and saw a huge jump. He looked good in WV, but he added some velocity and mixed his pitches better in Altoona, while also holding his velocity late in his start. If he can continue to build on his progress, he will be helping the Pirates before you know it. I think he gets a little lost in the hype of Taillon and gaudy numbers by Glasnow, but he is a legit pitching prospect with high potential.

        • I couldn’t agree with you more John.I also saw Kingham in Altoona for all his starts,and couldn’t believe that I had not seen all that much about him out side of sites like P2 and BD. That is why I found it laughable when the Mets and Rangers were talking about wanting to trade their excess 1st basemen and getting him in return.

        • I think some of the backlash against Taillon is simply prospect-fatigue. He’s been a top 20 prospect in baseball since he was drafted in 2010 and you see the guys who bookended him in the draft having a major impact already. Kingham seems pretty good as well, but for some to put him ahead of Taillon is a bit much.

  • We need Tallion more then ever the Dodgers just signed Kershaw to a 30 million a year contract. Can’t really compete with that in any way shape or form.

    • They should put the Dodgers, Angels, Yankees and Boston on an Island and let them play by themselves, contracts like Kershaws are ruining baseball, these teams do not understand the problems with running up values far above where they should be. You can win a pennant without Kershaw or any other player for that matter.

      • Stop watching games, going to games or giving any money to major league baseball, that fact that the Dodgers paid Kershaw over $200 million indicates that baseball is doing fine.

        I agree with the latter point, he is the best pitcher in baseball, but pitcher attrition rates are incredibly high.

  • weltytowngang
    January 15, 2014 2:29 pm

    Remember, he is not working to look good on how he rates by “outsiders”, he is working on control, pitches, building endurance, i.e. what his organization wants him to do, not to make lists.

    • EXACTLY !

      • +1

        I think pitchers more than batters have assignments – work on the change – work on the slider – work on getting away from the center of the plate…

        If one looks at Cole’s progress it had it’s ups and downs – but the goal was to get him to the majors and have him prepared to be there when he got there. I have been critical of the Pirates a lot – BUT they get an A+++ on this one. I am probably crazy, but I think Cole and a year from now Tailon will be #1 and #2 in the Pirate rotation and flirting with +5 WAR…

        • OVer the last 2-3 years the Pirates “system” for pitchers has become very, very evident. Whether that has been a radical shift as an organization, or sites and columns like this are just shedding more light on it now, the Pirates seem to have similar plans for their young arms.

          I know people are sick of the Gerrit Cole comparison, but it’s really the first development of the sort that we saw from start to finish (imo). We saw his numbers suffer in the minors as he had his aresnal restricted, and then we saw how doing so had made him a complete pitcher when he was turned loose in the Majors.

          THAT is the goal. Until he finishes their “plan” (be it in AAA right before a promotion, or in the Majors like Cole) you aren’t going to see his full potential in action.

  • Not this crap again… You were whining and moaning about his performance not matching his “reputation” last summer… About three weeks before he was promoted to Indy.. “He needs to start earning that signing bonus”…Bologna!

    Now, flash forward 6 months… Jameson is about to enter his his 4th consecutive season as a unanimous top 20 prospect overall, and ranked the No. 5 RHP. On top of that, he ahead of Appel, who went No 1 overall. Something about his performance and development must be going well if the entire industry has continually held him in this regard…. For 4 years!

    Maybe it’s your evaluations and expectations that aren’t worth a hill of beans 🙂

    • meatygettingsaucy
      January 15, 2014 1:15 pm

      Darnit BostonsCommon, logic is NOT permit on this message board.

      • Meaty : you stole my comment ! Sometimes I wonder exactly what will make some ” fans ” happy .

        • meatygettingsaucy
          January 15, 2014 3:18 pm

          Losing? Honestly, some people just like to complain to complain. Is Taillon the super macho, awesome looking pitcher that will take the baseball world by storm on his debut, taking the top spot on ESPN? Probably not. But, guess what, Gerrit Cole was in the same boat with some very familiar people making the same complaints. Then he came on the scene and those people have moved on to the next person to complain about.

          Honestly, personal analysis is great but there needs to be a limit. The way some people make it sound is as if the organization will never develop any talent and no one will ever perform up to even half of what is expected of them. Sheesh

    • BuccosFanStuckinMD
      January 15, 2014 5:03 pm

      Didn’t mean to hurt your feelings – are you Taillon’s dad??

      So, you cannot pose anything on this site that might be construed as negative? Wow, you need thicker skin.

      I could care less about rankings – rankings don’t record any outs or win any games. I care about actual performance, and based on actual performance I have not been overwhelmed by Taillon – including when I saw him in person. With that being said, I never said he was a bust or would not be a good MLB pitcher – he may put it all together in 2014 – who knows.

      Sorry to hurt your feelings!

      • BostonsCommon
        January 15, 2014 6:19 pm

        My feelings are fine, thank you. But I’m a little concerned about your memory.

        I’ve already addressed my relationship to Taillon… You know, last time you started ranting about ridiculous expectations and perceptions.

        You were wrong, and blindly ignorant then. Seems like not a lot has changed…


      • You know,you can be as snarky as you want to be ,but it doesn’t diminish the fact that you don’t seem to understand exactly what purpose Minor League baseball really serves. On top of that ,you mention ” I have not been overwhelmed by Taillon – including when I saw him in person. ” I would like to ask you this question : just how many times have you seen him pitch,in person ? I saw every one of his home starts while he was in Altoona,plus innings in ST,and he was dominating at times,and other times he was not. Usually when he was told to throw all 2 seamers and 15 to 20 changeups,he was less effective. But I doubt if they have him do that by the time he gets to MLB. There were many people such as your self saying the exact same things about Cole last Winter also,and I wonder how they feel about his developement now.

  • BuccosFanStuckinMD
    January 15, 2014 11:39 am

    Not an exactly an overwhelming or glowing report. Given he was the #2 overall pick, it seems like a number of other RHP prospects have passed Taillon up – if these kind of evaluations and rankings are worth a hill of beans. I hope he ends up still being a very good MLB pitcher, but my expectations for him have dropped somewhat. He really needs to produce and perform at the level appropriate with his draft position and reputation.

    • Wow…….how ’bout maybe taking a couple steps back and gaining a little perspective?

      By your level of “expectations” I guess you would say that Jose Fernandez was drafted 14th in the 1st round in 2011, while Gerrit Cole was taken #1.

      AND Fernandez made it to the MLB sooner than Cole.

      AND Fernandez was better in his first year than Cole was.

      Therefore, Cole has been a disappointment, in that he hasn’t lived up to your “expectations”.

      Maybe you wanna say that Taillon is a disappointment compared to, say, Syndergaard or Walker because they were HS guys drafted later in the first round than Taillon in 2010 but, jeez, they’re 2nd & 3rd on the MLB.com list, and Taillon’s 5th.

      Also – MLB.com’s top 100 prospects has nearly 40 right-handed pitchers on it – THAT’s the kind of RHP talent that’s out there right now, and Taillon is Top 5.

      Again……a little perspective.

      • BuccosFanStuckinMD
        January 15, 2014 4:56 pm

        I never mentioned Cole, so you are taking my comments regarding Taillon and putting additional words in my mouth. Overall, I have been disappointed with Taillon – to date. I am not denying that. He hasn’t been bad, he just hasn’t been dominant. His performance has been kind of up and down. Maybe in 2014, with the added challenge of pitching in AAA and maybe Pittsburgh, he may truly realize his potential so that his performance starts matching the hype on a more consistent basis.

        As for Pittsburgh saying they would have taken Taillon over Harper…heck, I would rather have Machado over either of them!!

        • I think we need to temper expectations of pitching prospects as a whole. Since he’s been brought up, would you say you were disappointed in Cole as well in his 1.5 years in the minors? Because while he had some very good starts, he wasn’t necessarily dominant either. In fact, I’d say they are pretty similar.
          Fancy minor league numbers are nice, but I think they only tell part of the story. A pitcher may have great numbers in the low-minors by blowing hitters away with his fastball, but stagnate at AA and AAA because he doesn’t make adjustments well and gets cuffed around. Its about stuff and the numbers, but I think its about the process too.

    • Cato the Elder
      January 15, 2014 3:16 pm

      So that we might have a little perspective, let’s look at a list of the last 20 #2 draft picks starting with Taillon:

      Dustin Ackley, Pedro Alvarez, Mike Moustakas, Greg Reynolds, Alex Gordon, Justin Verlander, Rickie Weeks, BJ Upton, Mark Prior, Adam Johnson, Josh Beckett, Mark Mulder, JD Drew, Travis Lee, Ben Davis, Ben Grieve, Darren Dreifort, Paul Shuey, Mike Kelly, Tony Clark.

      Frankly, being ranked as a top-20 prospect overall and a top 5 RHP prospect is very much commensurate with his draft position and reputation. So while it is reasonable to hope for Taillon to be next Justin Verlander, it pretty is unreasonable to expect that from him just because he was a #2 overall draft pick.

    • there’s nothing wrong with drafting a guy with ace potential and having him turn into a 3 or even a 4. there’s still a ton of surplus value there. #4 starters cost about 10 million per year on the free agent market, and they paid like 6 million for Taillon’s bonus. soooo 6 million plus 3 rookie salary MLB years is about 7.5 million for 3 years of service. compared to ~30 million for the same exact 3 years of service via free agency.

      Yes the projection has dropped from Ace to #2 or 3…. but that’s still AWESOME and in no way a bust or anything. if he makes the majors and has even a modicum of success, he won’t be a bust, IMO. there are too many busts who didnt make the majors to call a guy with any MLB success a bust.

      • Agreed. I think some people expect Cole and Taillon to be kind of co-#1’s for the Pirates. When, in fact, that would be incredibly lucky. And awesome.

    • He IS performing at a level appropriate with his draft position. The great majority of #2 picks go on to do very little in MLB, since drafting is an enormous crapshoot – even with a high pick. Thus far – given that he was only 21 years-old this year at AA (younger than Gray and Appel to name two) – he is doing fine.

      BTW, of the players drafted #2 in the entire draft going back to 1987, only four (Verlander, Beckett, JD Drew, and Alex Gordon) produced as much was 20 WAR over their entire careers. Others drafted #2 during that time (not including the last four years): Dustin Ackley, Pedro, Moustakas, Greg Reynolds, Rickie Weeks, BJ Upton, Adam Johnson, Mark Mulder, Travis Lee, Ben Davis, Ben Grieve, Darren Dreifort, Paul Shuey, Mike Kelly, Tony Clark, Tyler Houston, Mark Lewis, and Mark Merchant. Would you trade Taillon right now for a player equivalent to any of this group, except perhaps for Pedro? And I don’t think I’d trade his potential for Pedro either.

  • “Pittsburgh would have taken (Taillon) over Bryce Harper” according to the MLB.com article. Is that true, or a completely unsubstantiated rumor?

    • That was said after the draft had already taken place, which was easy to say because everyone knew the Nationals were taking Harper and you never want to come out and say that you’re disappointed with who you took. Whether it was actually true, we will never know.

      I think Pirates proved that they will take the best player in the recent drafts, whether it is hoping Appel would sign under the new cap, taking Boras clients with high price tags, taking Josh Bell, who said he would never sign. Taking Stetson Allie with his high price tag, or picking Austin Meadows after he dropped to them, when they were obviously very high on Reese McGuire. That makes me think that it was just something they said to show they knew they had no shot at Harper and they were also very happy with who they took.

      • This “taillon over harper” thing has always confused me. i don’t remember this and can’t find the quote anywhere.

        Could they have said something general like “just because baseball america has a guy rated #1 doesn’t mean he’s our guy necessarily” and everyone just assumed that that was the case here?

        I just don’t remember them saying Taillon was better because i know i would have been furious haha.