Jameson Taillon threw five innings and 74 pitches today at Pirate City. He was efficient with his pitches, needing to face a few extra hitters in several innings, just because he worked so quickly through the order each time out. This outing puts him one step closer to returning to Indianapolis, and his next outing will most likely show up in a minor league box score.
“I’m not 100 percent, but I think they wanted me to pitch next Tuesday in the GCL,” Taillon said. “I think that will be my last one [at Pirate City], hopefully. And then I’ll look to ship out of here. I think I’ll be with the Marauders for one or two, depending on how everything goes.”
The current schedule would have Taillon lined up to pitch in the GCL on Tuesday, followed by Bradenton’s home game on Sunday the 28th. From there, he would gradually move up, until he’s ready to pitch in Indianapolis. But the big question is whether he has a shot to pitch in Pittsburgh this year.
“I’d like to think I do,” Taillon said. “They haven’t said yes or no, but in my head the reason I worked so hard at the rehab is so I could be ready to help this year. They’re throwing the ball pretty well up there, so I don’t know if they’ll need me. My goal is to just be ready if they do. I, one hundred percent, think I could be ready.”
In watching every step of Taillon’s rehab, I’ve noticed one big change. His fastball command is much better now than what it was before his injury. He is throwing the ball with ease, and getting results down in the zone. A few years ago, it didn’t even seem possible for him to throw below the waist. Now every pitch comes in at an angle, and he works consistently down in the zone. He’s not going to have a lot to work on when he arrives in Indianapolis, so the idea that he could pitch in Pittsburgh this year is legit.
“A lot of people say with Tommy John you miss a year, it’s just a lost year,” Taillon said. “But I feel like I developed more this year than I could have if I was pitching at an affiliate. I learned a lot about angles, and being on time, reading hitters, and my mechanics. I feel like I’m in a pretty good spot.”
One challenge going forward will be the test that he sees in the upper levels. Taillon went five innings today for the first time, but he didn’t get a chance to fully execute his game plan, due to the undisciplined hitters in the lower levels.
“It’s tough down here, because these kids swing so much,” Taillon said. “I wanted to try to throw more changeups, more curveballs. I wanted to try to throw more two-seams, which is tough against these kids. They’re swinging early counts, and my changeup I like to throw behind in the count. It’s tough to pick and choose a spot.”
He was sitting around 92 MPH today, touching higher. I’ve seen him sitting 93-94 MPH and touching 96 in other outings. His normal velocity is in the 93-96 range, touching the upper 90s. However, I wouldn’t think much of the velocity down here, since it was extremely hot, humid, early in the morning, and a game that was the equivalent of a Spring Training start.
“It’s tough in a 10 AM game, intrasquad, to really be up and throw 98,” Taillon said. “I don’t know if I was intentionally taking anything off. But I wasn’t by any means out there letting it eat 100 percent, trying to embarrass anybody. Trying to ease my way through five for the first time and see how my arm felt, which feels good.”
That last part is the most important thing, and has been consistent every step of the way with the top pitching prospect. If that continues, and if the Pirates need him, then I could definitely see him in Pittsburgh by the end of the season.
**Clay Holmes, who is also rehabbing from Tommy John, went four innings today. Holmes has been making two starts at each inning total lately, having previously thrown three innings in each of his last two starts. He expects to throw four innings in a GCL game next week, although that could come on six days rest to get him separated from Taillon. From there, he’d throw one more outing before joining the Bradenton Marauders, who just created a rotation spot today by promoting Steven Brault to Altoona.