You didn’t have to read between the lines much to know that the Pirates have no intention of calling up their Triple-A pitching prospects before the middle of the season. Comments today from Neal Huntington made that perfectly clear. For starters, there was this blatant quote, saying they weren’t comfortable bringing the guys up in April or May.

“We’re not as comfortable that any of the guys coming from Double-A to Triple-A, or getting a little bit of Triple-A experience last year are going to be able to help us in April or May.”

Then there was this one about being conservative with prospects:

“The longer we’ve given guys in the minor leagues, the smoother the transition has been,” Huntington said. “You look across the industry, there’s exceptions to every rule, but there’s a lot more guys that have been hurt by being pushed than guys that have been helped by being pushed. We need to be cognizant of that. We are now a playoff calibre team. There’s not as much room for growing pains at the Major League level, and that’s why we’re going to be as conservative as we can be.”

Then there’s this comment which makes it sound like Jameson Taillon might not be up until August or September, and even that might not be a guarantee:

“We want to be fair to him and put him in a position to be successful,” Huntington said. “That’s why he could have a lights out camp and still, in our minds, not be ready to help us win up here. There’s a bit of a unique circumstance, but we’re going to have to be cognizant of that, and build him up accordingly, and be patient with him, and see where we are in August and September. The challenge is you don’t want to leave innings that are available for him after the end of our season.”

And maybe that is just mis-reading the quote, and wasn’t what Huntington intended to mean, but there was also this quote:

“In a perfect world, Jameson Taillon and Tyler Glasnow are given extra innings in Triple-A to continue to refine and grow and develop. But if we have a need because of injury, and/or someone struggles up here, as we look at them later in the season, they’re pretty good options to have.”

In short, you shouldn’t expect any of the pitching prospects to arrive early in the year. And whenever that is said, especially about the top guys, there is always an immediate topic to complain about: Super Two. But this is not for Super Two purposes. There are legitimate reasons for holding all five of these starters back at the beginning of the year, and the truth is that not all of them will be ready in mid-June when Super Two passes, even if the team needs them and calls them up.

Let’s do a quick rundown of each pitching prospect, taking a look at what they need to work on before they arrive.

Tyler Glasnow

What Makes Him Good: He’s got a plus-plus fastball that can hit 100 MPH, and works in the 94-96 range easily, with good downward movement. Also has a curveball that is a plus offering when it’s on. And he’s 6′ 8″, so the ball looks like it’s already at the plate when it comes out of his hand.

What He Needs to Work On: Right now he can’t throw the curve for strikes whenever he wants. He can use it in strikeout situations and other pitcher’s counts when the batter is a bit defensive and needs to expand his zone. He also needs to improve his changeup, trusting the pitch to do what it is supposed to do, rather than trying to manipulate it to generate movement and reduce velocity. His nerves also get the best of him sometimes, leading to a big blowup inning and a total lack of control.

Why This is Important? At the moment, MLB hitters could sit on Glasnow’s fastball, knowing that his changeup is inconsistent, and the curveball can’t be commanded that well to be thrown for a strike at-will. And while the fastball is outstanding and has been enough to hide his flaws throughout the minors, he will need the other two pitches to get MLB hitters out. Also, the nerves will come into play, leading to a big inning, which would probably lead to the bullpen getting blown up in some of his starts.

When Could He Arrive? I’d say mid-season, but that’s not when his issues will be gone. I think the nerves issue will be a factor when he first comes up. But he can counter that by improving his secondary pitches. He might show improvements with both pitches with a lot of focus in Indianapolis, but he will still need to work on the pitches once he reaches the majors. There’s still number one starter potential here, but don’t think that Glasnow is ready the moment he posts his first dominant start in Triple-A.

Jameson Taillon

What Makes Him Good: A fastball that sits 94-96, touching 99, and now features downward movement with minimal effort in his delivery. Also, a power slurve that is a plus offering, and a changeup and two-seam fastball that are average pitches, and enough to keep hitters honest with the fastball/curve combo.

What He Needs to Work On: The biggest thing here is getting used to upper level hitters. Taillon pitched last year between extended Spring Training and instructs, but got very little time against upper level hitting. This makes it difficult to work on pitch sequencing, as you don’t need to worry about that when any pitch will blow rookie leaguers away.

Why This is Important? Right now Taillon is two years removed from having to actually pitch. The stuff looks great, but he hasn’t had to focus on hitters who can hit his stuff if it isn’t thrown in the right spot, or alternating his hold times with runners on base, or any of the other things that don’t involve just throwing a baseball to the catcher with no regard for who is in the batter’s box.

When Could He Arrive? This is tricky. From a stuff standpoint, I think he could arrive before Glasnow, and if he didn’t have the injury issues, this would be a case where Super Two might actually be the main thing holding him back. But the longer layoff could result in a more conservative schedule, putting his debut in July or August.

Steven Brault

What Makes Him Good: A sinker that sits upper 80s, but has a ton of movement, with late cutting action. A four seam fastball which can hit 93 on a regular basis. Some of the best control in the system, along with a deceptive delivery.

What He Needs to Work On: He had a curve and a slider, but switched primarily to the slider after the curve wasn’t working. That’s improving, but he’ll need it to do better in order to have an out pitch. He also hasn’t had much experience with the changeup — always an important thing for lefty starters — and will need to improve that before he arrives.

Why This is Important? The changeup seems obvious. But overall, Brault needs a secondary pitch. He’s got so much control and movement on his fastball that he gets results, even without reliable secondary stuff.

When Could He Arrive? Brault might be bumped down to Altoona at the start of the season, but could still make it to the majors if they need him. They might not need him in 2016, which would give plenty of time to develop his off-speed stuff for future years. He projects as a strong number four starter, and maybe better if he becomes a “Jeff Locke with more consistency and better control”, which is totally possible for him.

Chad Kuhl

What Makes Him Good: On a consistent basis he throws a sinker that can touch 96-97 MPH with good movement. He also has made good strides on his slider in the last year.

What He Needs to Work On: Kuhl needs to work on improving his changeup, and getting even more comfortable with the new grip he has, which involves a lighter touch while holding the ball.

Why This is Important? Sinkerball pitchers, especially those who rely on extreme ground ball rates, need a changeup because they traditionally struggle against lefties otherwise.

When Could He Arrive? I wouldn’t be surprised if he arrives earlier, rather than later, being the top guy of the non-Glasnow/Taillon group (can we call these three The NGT? Or maybe KBW?). The Pirates love his stuff, and with the slider development, he seems closer to the majors in terms of things to work on. In fact, I could see a scenario where he’s up before Glasnow and Taillon. The ceiling is lower, but there’s a chance for a solid fourth starter, or maybe a number three if the slider continues improving.

Trevor Williams

What Makes Him Good: He has a lot of movement on his pitches, along with a deceptive delivery that hides the ball longer, making his velocity play up. His sinker is 89-92 MPH and his primary pitch, but he can get his four seamer up to 95 MPH on a regular basis. He also has a good changeup and is very comfortable with the pitch.

What He Needs to Work On: Williams doesn’t have a strikeout pitch. He throws a curve and a slider, but the curve is more of another changeup. The slider isn’t a strikeout pitch, but the Pirates like it better than the curve, and have him focusing on that more of his two breaking pitches.

Why This is Important? If he doesn’t have an out pitch, then he’s going to have a hard time cracking this rotation, and might end up being a Jared Hughes type reliever instead.

When Could He Arrive? Just like Brault, Williams could end up in Altoona to start the year. And just like Brault, he could arrive in the majors this year, but odds are they’ll have enough guys in front of him that they’ll be able to give him a full year getting ready in the minors, with the upside of a fourth starter in the future.

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**Glasnow and Taillon Show What They Need to Work On; Full Black and Gold Coverage. A full recap of the Black and Gold game, with videos and analysis on all of the pitchers, plus Josh Bell and Max Moroff.

**Pirates Are Set to Rely More on Their Prospect Depth in 2016. Neal Huntington discusses how the Pirates are going to rely on their young prospects more this year for depth, rather than the veteran minor league free agents they’ve targeted in the past.

**Photos From Today’s Black and Gold Game. A photo album of today’s game, with photos from Wilbur Miller and Sean McCool.

**Draft Prospect Watch: Boldt Homers, Senzel Reaches Base Seven Times. John Dreker has the latest draft prospect coverage.

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120 COMMENTS

  1. Tim … Great article! And one I’ve come to expect as it answers a ton of questions concisely – and in one place. my own two cents:

    I believe that Glasnow will get rocked in his first two or three starts (whenever he arrives as he definitely gets over amped in high pressure situations. Plus he needs to at least have a consistent curve r a solid change up when he arrives.
    Your comments about Taillon readiness and his focus on game situations make me think that the Pirates are going about this wrong. Why not start him in Indy (as long as the weather is reasonable) and as soon as he proves himself (say May), the majors. And then pitch him the full six innings (otherwise you are just burning out the bullpen). Super 2 shouldn’t be a concern because he will reach his limit quickly and then be replaced by Glasnow.
    I definitely agree that if a need arose early – say April – my first thoughts would be Kuhl then Brault. Not Boscan or Lobstein.
    I think Williams will be Cumpton spot starter who transitions to the pen. But these guys are really going to get pushed by themselves, by Holmes, then by the Hi A guys…

  2. Wow! With or WITHOUT the glove. Just made a terrific bare handed play. Hard to see why we would use Florimon ahead of him as the backup shortstop.

    • Its very possible Gift would hit worse than Florimon, and even if they are the same with that bat you get no speed from Gift. Gift is a fantastic defensive option, but it seems like he can benefit from another 200-300 at bats in AAA to try to become more than purely a defensive player with no bat.

      If one agrees that the jump for AAA to MLB is as hard as ever, its likely not wise to have Gift get 60 at bats in AAA and then be the primary SS backup. He’d get plenty of starts in that role and his projection is 60 wRC+. Florimon being less than average for his role doesnt really seem to make another less than average option good.

    • Hey Rob I was there today too – in section 100, row CC. Was rather hot in the sun, but great watching Bucco baseball again. And BTW, I think that some of you are knee jerk reacting in a negative way to this article about the pitching prospects. Who is to say that TG and/or JT don`t make the necessary improvements needed to help the big club in 2016? Let`s just all relax, enjoy the games, and see how this all plays out.

  3. So, add in Yeudy Garcia and the makings of an entire 2018 rotation is here? In other words Cole is tradeable if they need to enhance some other part of the club.

    • Piraddict….I’d like your post, but now that I know that NMR is monitoring and scrutinizing my likes, I have to be, as Elmer Fudd would say “vewy, vewy careful”.

      🙂

  4. I think Cole crying like a little *Pirates Prospect Edit*, might have something to do with the comments. If he says the plan is to bring them up late in the season and either one comes up ahead of “schedule” then that’s good. If he says something about bringing them up in the middle of summer…that can be read as “after super 2”

    • So I’m 6’2 and 180. He’s listed as 6’2 235. I’m relatively fit for 52 – can’t imagine where I would hang another 50 pounds of muscle…

  5. So my wife and I are in section 302, row C in Lakeland. First time we’ve been to spring training opening day!!

  6. Tim, what happened to “Pirates Are Set to Rely More on Their Prospect Depth in 2016.” If the pitchers aren’t ready at least mid season then why not get a vet for a year or two. Even if they are ready, you could flip the vet at trade deadline. I hope your overly conservative on your excellent reporting.

  7. I found this troubling,..

    “The longer we’ve given guys in the minor leagues, the smoother the transition has been,”

    And it is what one of my problems with Huntington has been – Players are different – they are not homogeneous. Treating them all the same will do a couple of things…

    1. Frustrate and bore the competitive guys who need the challenge to get better and are able to learn from challenges and competition better than the will ever learn from repetition.
    2. Coddle and protect guys who will never survive in high leverage – highly competitive environments – they may have talent – but they will never do well under pressure.

    Good teams – and good coaches try and get the best out of each individual player – they have little or no use for this kind of formulaic crap.

    Wasting innings and at bats in the minors that could help the MLB team win a Division or WS is just plain stupid…

    • Once you go ahead and predict, with accuracy, which player is likely to be the guy who can skip levels and help a MLB team right now and which player needs to be challenged level to level as he works on his stuff you’ll have a ML FO job.

      We can all by the guys who judge from the outside, but we are just as stupid when we act like its easy to tell who is wasting his time in the minors and who needs the work. At least half the fanbase was sure Polanco was wasting his time in the minors.

      • It certainly is not easy – but some guys make it pretty obvious – Cole has had his struggles at times in the Majors – but he comes across as someone who wants to compete and is highly motivated to not continue to make the same mistakes over and over. I think we have seen something different in Polanco – he appears to get in a funk when things go poorly – and has not developed the tools to deal with adversity – he is young and will get over this in the future if all goes well.

        For a team with all the analytics the Pirates have you would think they would be able to get at competitive profiles via some psych testing and observation.

        But the bigger point is that their are risks in Huntington’s “one size fits all” approach

    • I agree with this Bruce- each player is a man and has a body and mind to his own. Coaches are PAID to be able to figure out what each player can handle and maximize that talent- if not- they are being paid to do literally nothing at all other than babysit

      • Really surprised that’s the part of that quote you guys are harping on.

        “We are now a playoff calibre team. There’s not as much room for growing pains at the Major League level, and that’s why we’re going to be as conservative as we can be.”

        This acknowledgement, with the implied connection of a Niese-Locke-Vogelsong rotation and absolutely zero quality position player depth, is far more egregious. But Huntington *has* to say these things, so this is really a conversation we have in late February out of boredom.

        • fair enough my friend. I almost hope that Vogelsong goes down with Tommy John next week (nothing personal) just to FORCE us to do something.

          • I hesitated to upvote wishing someone blew out their elbow but this might be the most humane way to end Vogelsong’s career, just as Corey Hart was able to mercifully ride into the sunset on the 60-day DL last year.

  8. My main problem with this offseason has been the way they allocated their very limited resources. Instead of investing in SRod (who I do like because of his fiery nature), Vogelsong and Feliz, they could have bundled that money and a couple million more for a legit No. 3 in the starting rotation, which bumps Niese down to No. 4 and Locke to No. 5. That way we are not punting on this season.
    It also provides another established arm for when Liriano’s pact expires after next season. IMO, you cannot build an entire rotation around young prospects because not all of them are going to succeed. By 2018, the rotation is going to have Cole, possibly Niese (if his options are picked up) and the arrival of said prospects above. Hopefully, TG, JT, Kuhl et. al realize their full potential and I will look foolish for worrying so much.

  9. What is upsetting is I think the Pirates should have planned for some regression from Cole and Frankie. I think it’s unrealistic to assume they will have the same or better production as they did in 2015 whether that is performance or injury related. Ideally they should have pushed some of the lifting onto the 3-5 guys in the rotation this year. Instead, it looks like they decided to make Cole and Liriano carry even more weight and just hope we survive until late June or July.

    • You can be upset with the decision, but give Huntington & Co enough credit to accept that they understand exactly what they decided to do this winter. At some point the decision was made to re-tool, plain and simple.

      They’re smart enough to know they don’t have enough quality depth in the rotation or lineup; they were the ones who did that intentionally. They’re also smart enough to know better than to *expect* immediate positive contributions from the 4-5 prospects they left room for considerable playing time in 2016.

      They built this team for a shot at the Wild Card in ’16, while also allowing plenty of room for the prospects to rip the bandaid off, hopefully putting them in better shape in ’17.

      • The decision was made to “be cheap”. They could have spent a few million $’s more on a better one year option than Vogelsong. That would have given us a better shot at the playoffs this year, and not changed the longer term outlook.

      • I agree with your outline of their re-tooling plan for 2016….with a couple exceptions.
        I believe they hoped to do better with a veteran starter but underestimated the market and had to scramble for the poor choice of Vogelsong.
        I also believe that NH had his budget cut because the ski resort side of the Nutting empire had a terrible year. The net result is we have a lessor chance to make the playoffs this year with Cutch still under contract.

        • I’ll respectfully stay away from the Nutting talk, but I do very much agree that they didn’t go into this winter planning to re-tool, at least not to the extent that they ended up.

          Once it became clear they either misread or got blown out of the starting pitching market they decided to try this low risk bullpen strategy and hope the prospects contribute. Not a crazy plan, just an incredibly risky one.

        • They didn’t have to “scramble” with Vogelsong because there were plenty other pitchers available AFTER vogelsong was signed at a reasonable price and substantial potential upgrade. We just didn’t feel like coming outside to play

          • Your right…but I would put it this way. When they didn’t get Happ they decided not to pay the going rate for an upgrade. Gambled and paid too much for Volgelsong.

            • Just think – they could be going into this year with a rotation of
              Cole
              Liriano
              Happ
              Volquez
              Locke

              And a payroll of $105 or less..
              And they would be looking
              at Cole
              Happ
              and three young guns
              for next year – with Locke as a lefty from the
              BP

            • If it was Happ or broke then they had one of the worst off-season plans in the history of Pirates baseball

                • Yeah- I agree. and I sat through every one of them. The offseason plans those years weren’t all that relevant as you can’t turn dirt to gold. We had a lot of diry and about 2 kernels of gold most years

        • Did Nutting’s newspaper conglomerate have a bad year? I don’t know.

          The last two winters were banner years at their ski resorts. They started skiing first of November,. Typically if you can get things in full gear by Thanksgiving and carry on thru early March, that’s a really good year.

          My guess is the smart ski resort owner doesn’t spend that extra cash immediately after a banner season. This ski season is exactly why they shouldn’t .

          We all know how cheap Nutting is, so you know he stashed that money away for safe keeping.

          • It is my belief that the payroll budget of $105M that was leaked last fall was cut by $10M because of the real and unanticipated cash losses on the ski resort side of the entertainment empire.
            It is my belief that the payroll budget of $105M that was leaked last fall was cut by $10M because of the real and unanticipated cash losses on the ski resort side of the entertainment empire.

            • Fair enough, but consider that last fall was prior to the start of the officially recognized 2015-2016 ski season and therefore nearly impossible to guesstimate the relatively warm winter that brought about a very late start to the ski season and subsequent financial losses.

              If your theory is true, I could see it affecting the 2017 PBC payroll.

              Also consider that the king of the entertainment empire Robert Nutting, came off a banner ski season in 2014-2015 and had plenty of cash to spend on the 2016 PBC, but he didn’t.

              We all know he’s so cheap that all he does is hoard the money for himself and his family.

    • I don’t think you should expect – or plan for “regression” from a player like Cole – he is at a point in his career where he should get better every year for the next 3-4 years baring injury. Kershaw posted his best year last year at age 27.

  10. Tim, wasn’t the “August or September” quote was in reference to Taillon’s inning count this year, not his callup? In the Black & Gold analysis article yesterday, it was presented as a response to a question about limiting Taillon’s innings this year, and NH was saying that we’ll see in August and September (about shutting him down) but that he hopes to not leave innings on the table either.

  11. This definitely goes against all the posters defending the Vogelsong signing (or more accurately the lack of signing anyone else as a starting pitcher) – whom were stating that our prospects would be ready to pony up early season if needed……yeah, not happening guys. How do you feel now?

  12. so what you’re saying is that we might as well get used to the possibility of a lot of starts from Vogelsong, Lobstein and Nicasio??

    UGH!

  13. The Pirates love [Kuhl’s] stuff, and with the slider development, he seems closer to the majors in terms of things to work on. In fact, I could see a scenario where he’s up before Glasnow and Taillon. The ceiling is lower, but there’s a chance for a solid fourth starter, or maybe a number three if the slider continues improving.

    Your description of Kuhl indicates he has a higher ceiling than a number four or three starter. Kuhl could easily achieve a plus fastball, a plus plus sinker, plus control, an average slider and an average change. All he needs to become a number one or two starter is a plus slider or change.

    Kuhl seems to be a young Kevin Brown. That’s something!

    http://www.fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?playerid=642&position=P

                • A guy that doesn’t argue with Tim about a pitcher I’ve never once actually seen throw a baseball in my life.

                  But this is the internet, so you’re right. Great scouting!

                    • Should I use Tim’s own repeated correction, or the fact that literally nobody else has put a plus grade (60) on the fastball?

                      Seriously, take a deep breath.

                    • Only NMR is allowed to disagree with Tim. Haven’t you learned that by now?

                      I’m surprised that he’s not employed by someone in MLB. He’s that smart. Just ask him.

                    • If you want to believe that Kuhl has two plus pitches by counting his four seam as well, then go for it. You’re counting a pitch that he uses maybe 2% of the time. And the reason he uses it 2% of the time? Because it’s not as good as his sinker.

                      It’s kind of like Charlie Morton. His sinker and four seam can both hit 96. But he uses the sinker almost exclusively, while using the four seam as a situational pitch. He threw over 2500 sinkers the last two years, compared to 350 four seamers and 1000 curveballs, along with other pitches. So does Morton also have two plus pitches? And if he does, would you count that the same as someone like Taillon who has a plus fastball and a plus curve?

                    • You are conflating capacity with usage. Capacity: The ability to do something. Usage: Doing that something. If Kuhl has a quality four seam fastball he does not use, that does not mean he lacks the pitch. He cannot chose to avoid using his four seam fastball if he lacks the pitch. He can only choose to avoid it when he has it.

                      If a pitcher has plus two and four seam fastballs, he has two distinct pitches. A four and two seam fastball are not identical.They differ, and the difference can be exploited by the pitcher.

                      That said, the differences between a four seam fastball and a curveball are such that they provide the opportunity to play one pitch off the other, doing so in manner that they can confound the timing of the batter.

                    • If he had the quality four seam fastball you are describing, he wouldn’t avoid using it outside of very specific situations. There’s no way the Pirates would make that part of his development plan.

                      But I’m just a guy who has talked to all of his pitching coaches about all of his pitches, talked to him, talked to his catchers, talked to scouts about him, watched him all of 2014, and had writers watching him all of 2015. So I’ll defer to your knowledge on this subject.

                    • My knowledge in this subject — Kuhl and pitching — amounts to unpacking the meaning of the words used to describe Kuhl and other pitchers. Given common usage, it makes no real sense to describe a pitcher with Kuhl’s repertoire and potential as a four starter and, at best, a three starter. We can reasonable expect Kuhl to become a better ML pitcher than Jeff Locke already has been. We can also expect him to become a better ML pitcher than Charlie Morton if he improves his slider or changeup.

                      You shouldn’t defer to anyone’s knowledge on this subject — or many subjects. However, it’s risky to ignore your doctors.

              • Lol. Again, zero self awareness. You’ve argued with Tim about players that you’ve never seen live.

            • What’s your definition of command?

              If Kuhl went with his four seam as his primary pitch, he would get shelled and wouldn’t be effective. It’s a situational pitch, and not nearly the weapon that his two-seamer is. It has velocity and that’s it.

              • My definition of command is the same one most use. A pitcher commands a pitch when he can put that pitch wherever he chooses.

                Kuhl has generated low ERAs with low strikeout and walk rates. But his velocity of his fastballs have increased over the past year. These increases their effectiveness.

                I didn’t claim Kuhl’s four seam fastball was as effective as his two seem fastball. I actually claimed the opposite when I stated that his two seam fastball was a plus plus pitch and his four seam fastball was a plus pitch.

                Nolan Ryan had a double plus fastball. He couldn’t only use that pitch when he was a starter.

                • Kuhl doesn’t have the command you speak of. He told me that he rarely uses the four seam, and most of his pitches are the two seam. It’s just a situational pitch, and he’s not throwing it to hit a specific area. It’s to hit a general area, not worrying about a specific location.

                  • He lacks command in general? Are you claiming Kuhl doesn’t know where his pitches are going, that he’s a thrower like Glasnow, a pitcher who is blessed by luck because his walk totals are so low?

                    Specific area: Inside, outside, high low, center up, center down, center center.

                    General area: ????

                    Command does not mean consistently paint the corners. It means having the ability to consistently locate pitches in the nine areas of the strike zone.

                    As for the term situational pitch, which pitch in any pitchers arsenal is a non-situational pitch? I ask because every pitch thrown is made in a specific situation. Non-situational pitches do not exist.

  14. This is a very good piece of sports journalism. Tight, fact based analysis of five top pitching prospects in a format where their talent, strengths and weaknesses can be compared. This site just keeps improving, and provides Pirate fans with analysis not available anywhere else.
    Over the last two years I have developed this nagging concern that mental toughness and confidence, nerves may be the biggest challenges for Taillon and Glasnow. Superficially, this was a problem for both of them yesterday. If nerves cause lack of control resulting in hitters sitting on their fastballs then they have a problem. Compared to the apparent “bulldog” mentality of Cole, Taillon and Glasnow need to improve their confidence under pressure. If they don’t show it in Florida and Indianapolis they aren’t ready to show it in Chicago. Maybe it’s time to reinstitute the Navy Seal morning workouts ………..

  15. If Taillon isn’t going to be ready to contribute until August or September it makes the offseason pitching additions look even more foolish.

    I’m realistic and know we shouldn’t expect a lot from him this year but I thought he may be ready by at least July.

    There really is no excuse to go into a season with a WS contending roster with Niese/Locke/Vogelsong as your 3 4 5 and the knowledge one of your top 5 will likely go down soon with Lobstein, Boscan and Nicasio as your insurance.

      • It’s very disheartening Foo. My personal opinion, at least what I saw last year is that Glasnow for all his potential looks very raw. I was under impression that even coming off injury Taillon was more refined and maybe could be primed to contribute in mid to late June. I’m not at all convinced that Glasnow will give us as much as many people think this year. I could see some very good starts followed by some extremely poor ones. I just think he still much rawer than the consensus. If people think they are going to get 2013 Gerrit Cole production from Glasnow my guess is they will be quite disappointed.

        I certainly hope Kuhl could come up in mid May if need be without Super 2 being a concern.

        • And the concerns with TG remain BIG concerns for me.

          Right now….he is a reliever….one pitch pitcher.

          That has been my concern all along. When his curve is working, he is a two pitch pitcher, but still either a reliever or a #4 starter?

          • Wait a minute, you’re calling Tyler Glasnow a reliever but liking the post that comps Chad Kuhl to Kevin Freaking Brown?

            • Am I not allowed to be optimistic about an underdog pitcher like Kuhl? Can I not be pessimistic about one player and optimistic about another? The coffers are full of highly touted prospects who needed to gain command or develop another pitch but never did.

              Until Glasnow does that, I will not get too excited.

              Plus, when did you start checking to see who likes which posts? Slow day at work?

              • You’re allowed to be whatever you want, Foo! But don’t act surprised when someone points out two competing views that are extreme outliers.

                • Only YOU do that! 🙂

                  And it is not as outlier as you think.

                  Although I agree that the Kevin Brown comp is a bit over the top, I like Kuhl a lot (as do a lot of GMs who asked for him in a trade).

                  As for TG, I like him, and his ceiling is a lot higher than Kuhl’s no doubt, but I have my doubts he’ll ever reach it.

                  In the end, Kuhl may be just as good of a pitcher as TG, if Kuhl’s secondary pitches develop and TG’s don’t.

                • LOL. ****hypocrite**** should be your screen name.

                  Dude, why don’t you relax and let people spew their opinions without being such a tool and jumping all over them.

                  Who cares if they’re right , wrong or indifferent? How does their opinion of the PBC and their prospects affect your life? Is your self esteem this low that you must **act** superior on a baseball blog?

                  You actually make a lot of valid points, but you go into douchebag mode and lose any credibility that you seek.

  16. I have to be honest, I never really believed that Taillon would be in the major leagues as a starter this year at all. It just makes more sense to get him to 120-130 innings in AAA, then bring him up in September and have him pitch out of the bullpen. Which, by the way I interpreted what NH said, would be their plan with him as well. There is also a very real possibility that he will not be up at all this year, but if I were putting money on it, I would bet on a Sept call-up.
    At some point, the Pirates will not have enough rotation spots for all of these guys, so out of Kuhl, Brault and Williams, there is a very good possibility that at least 2 of them will need to be moved into the bullpen. I am not choosing a favorite here, but if Kuhl is throwing a 97 MPH sinker and has his same control, he could realistically be a nasty closer. That being said, those are also two of the top reasons to keep him as a starter.
    Lastly, my personal opinion is that Glasnow could probably use a full season in AAA. I am not sure he has ever made it all the way through a season without some sort if missed time injury. Not that that should have a bearing on his progression, but it is just my thought.

    • Glasnow didn’t miss any time in 2012 or 2013, he signed too late to play regular season games in 2011. His innings were limited at the end of 2013, but that was due to his age and the difference between his previous innings pitched total. The missed time the last two years has been minimal.

      In 2014, he pitched two innings in early March, then had a little back tightness while running. They gave him off a few days, then started him by throwing a couple bullpens to make sure nothing was wrong still. So instead of working up to three innings in mid-March, he just reset and started back at one inning. While he wasn’t pitching for Bradenton on Opening Day, he was still pitching, even hitting 100 mph multiple times in an Extended Spring Training start. He was ready to pitch Opening Day, just not ready to go five innings. His actual time missed in 2014 was a few days. That was also the year he went to the AFL after the season.

      Last year his time missed was from not knowing how to slide and turning an ankle. He did miss a month, though that was partially due to the Pirates taking extra precaution, and he threw three bullpens during that month before his rehab start, plus normal throwing off flat ground. He made two playoff starts and then went to the Instructional League and got in more innings than usual, making up for the missed time.

      If you count the bullpens, then he has missed about four weeks total of throwing during four seasons.

    • They aren’t going to mess with a TJ survivor by putting him in the bullpen- Never.Going.To.Happen.

      • Why? It worked out pretty well for John Smoltz. As long as you limit the amount of times he gets up and sits back down, don’t use him on back to back days, it really shouldn’t be an issue.

        • Because we aren’t the Braves of the 1990’s- we do things a very specific and conservative way, and what the Rays, Crdinals, or Braves did twenty years ago is irrelevant. WE won’t do it. Pure and simple. Next topic

          • Are you Ray Searage, Clint Hurdle or Neil Huntington? You keep saying “we” like you have a say in the decision. Another little nugget that you aren’t going to like, Taillon may ultimately be turned into a reliever. Because, lets be realistic, the list of pitchers to return from two years off of pitching in competitive games and been productive is very very small. Tim and John can say what they will about him throwing BP’s and Instructs, Extended ST, wherever Taillon has thrown, it has not been in game situations. I hope that Taillon can remain a starter, but you need to be realistic, his chances are not good. That is the #1 reason given for him being left completely off of two separate top 100 prospects lists. His talent would have him top 30, as he was in the past, his health uncertainty makes him a non-prospect for at least 2 outlets.

            • We as in the Pirates “thecrow124” because it’s “our” team. Don’t be an A-hole, you know exactly what i mean. You are throwing out opinions or possibilities that have literally never been spoken about by any of those people you mention above. And you know why they haven’t been mentioned? Because they aren’t the plan. The plan, if you have cared to listen over the last 5 years, is very structured and we almost never go outside of it. Those people above will gladly in depth tell you exactly what they do. The Pirates are a very structured organization, and for what you are saying to happen, those people would have to be fired or move on to another team and be replaced by new ideas. IT WILL NOT HAPPEN. The only reason he is left off is because he hasn’t been in a real game in two years and those lists don’t have access to Tim Williams in depth knowledge and information of the players. There isn’t a single shred of real or anecdotal information to even reasonable infer that Taillon will ever be a reliever. This isn’t Daniel Moskos or Bryan Bullington here. This kid has multiple plus pitches, good command, a free easy delivery, and shouldn’t have any stamina issues. For a previous TJ pitcher, pitching multiple days in a row is way worse than every 5th day…..and you should know that.

              • I wasn’t attempting to be an A-hole, but I guess that is how it came across.
                I am honestly not sure what reasoning you have for your belief that being a relief pitcher is harder on the arm than being a starter. As a reliever, a pitcher will typically rely on 2 pitches, one of which is the fastball, which is the least stressful pitch on the ligament in question. Even though I mentioned limiting the times he gets up, and gets warm, in reality, as a starter, the pitcher does that at least 5 times in a game.
                But here are some sobering facts, of pitcher that have TJ surgery, only 67% return to pitch at least 10 times in any season. Of those pitchers that have TJ surgery, roughly 35% will need a second TJ surgery. Of those pitchers that have a second TJ surgery, about 10% will return to pitch close to their pre-injury ability level. Those stats are for major league pitchers. Couple that with the fact that pitchers that miss time due to injury have about a 50% chance of missing time the following year due to injury, and history would tell us that Jameson Taillon has an uphill battle to ever being a durable top of the rotation major league starter. So, I was not trying to compare him to Daniel Moskos or Bryan Bullington(who has actually been a very good pitcher for a number of years in Japan), but just giving my opinion based off of facts that I have read.
                I sincerely hope that he can be the pitcher we all want him to be, but history just isn’t on his side.

                • as a former pitcher I can assure you that is false. If you go out and interview or talk to any pitcher in a bar on what is harder on your arm…..pitching 2-3 days in a row at 100% fire, or pitching once every 5th day with 85-90% fire, you will get a very clear answer. A lot of times pitchers come back early and pitch out of the bullpen because of the lack of command or time to build up arm strength to pitch deeper into games, but that is it.

                  I have no idea where you got those stats, they completely seem made up to me. I can’t even remember the last starting pitcher whom came back and was relegated to be a relief pitcher, I’d love to hear a few names of succesful starting pitchers that had to come back as relievers to back up these claims. I can only think of 3 pitchers whom had a 2nd TJ (one of whom is Luebke which doesn’t even count cause it was a “redo” another being our favorite star Cardinal pitcher……

                  How about a list to prove my point: Just Pirates pitchers- Sean Burnett (probably the most appropriate player to prove your point) Ryan Vogelsong 2002- didn’t hurt him. Kris Benson- didn’t hurt him, Brad Lincoln (may also serve your point) Charlie Morton 2012- no effect on him. The other guys with major league value were already relief pitchers, but none of them had a 2nd TJ. Of course there are more than just 3 double TJ guys: Medlen and Beachy just a few years between and Johnny Venters 9 years apart, something wrong in the rehab there if you ask me, that’s just too much of a coincidence. Didn’t slow down Tim Hudson after 2008 though or John Smoltz in 2000. Nathan Eovaldi was perfectly fine, didn’t hurt John Lackey or Anibal Sanchez.
                  – point being, as i’m going team by team looking at the TJ surgeries, about 70% of the injured pitchers in the majors are relief pitchers which I wasn’t even expecting, but it does serve my point. Going through the top 5 teams, I didn’t find a single established Major league starting pitcher who was forced to be a relief pitcher after TJ surgery…..not one. a few minor league starters yes, but who knows if they were good enough to be a starting pitcher in the majors anyways. I’m sorry, but in this case……you are just off base. The only way you’ve got me, is that Taillon is not yet an established major league starting pitcher…..and I really can’t debate that

                  • I can not find the article tonight, but those numbers are most assuredly not made up. Do a search for “Tommy John Surgery Success Rates in the Majors”, it is not the same article, but it does have some of the same points.
                    Back to my original point, although there were a few different thoughts in the post, I was not attempting to say that Taillon was going to become a relief pitcher. I may be, and probably am wrong in my guess that the Pirates would want to limit his innings this season to well below 140, which would work out to about 26 starts, or an entire AAA season, my initial thought was that he would be limited to less than 100IP, but listening to NH, that now doesn’t seem likely, and they will get him more innings than that. The number, however, will not likely be revealed. I also said in the original post that he should not be used on consecutive days, so there is that, I also never said anything about perceived effort on pitches. I said that the fastball puts the least amount of stress/torque on the elbow. As a relief pitcher, you can get by with a fastball and a change, as a starter you need a third pitch, typically a curve or a slider, which adds considerable stress to the elbow.
                    It is good that you can point out pitchers that were “successful” in their recovery from TJ surgery, but if you look at the all time list of TJ surgeries, you will see that it has a lot of pitchers that never made it back to the majors. As for the minor league starters that we don’t know how good they really were, do we really know how good Taillon is against major league hitters?
                    In reality, our entire discussion is pointless, because barring another injury to Taillon, he will most likely be starting in Pittsburgh at some point this season.
                    Lastly, allow me to apologize to you for not extracting through our lively discussion the vast knowledge you possess of pitching at the major league level, you could have saved me a lot of time by just starting your initial response with the fact that you are a pitcher and have more extensive knowledge on this subject than I have. From this point forward I will refrain from responding to posts about pitching that you have already responded to and I will just accept that your knowledge is superior to mine.

                    • Being a smartass does not change facts. 1. Pitching is pitching, at any level the effect on the body is the same at the basic level. 2. I apologize for thinking you said Taillon was going to be a relief pitcher, to me it seemed pretty plain that, that is exactly what you said would “likely” happen. Not just this year, but in the future. Evidently I misconstrued something. 3. All preseason prognostication is pointless, other than to just debate and share opinions 4. the point of sharing these thoughts and enjoying it is dependent on one of the people not becoming “butt hurt” when someone points out that they are either misguided in their thoughts, or simply aren’t doing a very good job of expressing their thoughts. 5. Of course I am pointing out things you didn’t because there are factors which make relief pitching tougher on the arm than starting pitching, which is quite self evident once you actually list out the numbers of ML starting pitchers whom have had TJ once or twice and compare it to the list of relief pitchers whom have had TJ done once or twice. You do actually make some good points, and I don’t mean to discount that, but your overall thesis is just wrong.

                    • I am not “butt hurt”, not in the least. I just find it silly that your side of this discussion stems around the fact that you were a pitcher so you know things I couldn’t possibly know. Because it appears that that is the basis for your side.
                      How can a person be misguided with their own thoughts? If it is their thought, then it is their thought. Not necessarily right or wrong, just a personal opinion.
                      I guess a better basis for my original point, which was that I didn’t see Taillon as a starting option in Pittsburgh this season, would be this. 1) His innings are going to be limited. 2) He is currently on the same throwing program as all the other starters. 3) To make it to the end of the season, he is going to have to make 29-30 starts. 4) Even if he is limited to 5 innings per start, that is 145-150 innings this year. 5) He hasn’t pitched in a game in over 2 full seasons. 6) He has never thrown more than 142 innings in any season.
                      I originally thought that the Pirates would limit his innings to somewhere between 90-100, but now, I am lead to believe that it will be significantly higher, due to the amount of throwing he was able to get in last season during his recovery.
                      When I put all that together, I just didn’t see how he could make it to the end of a full season as a starting pitcher. I believe I went off on the TJ tangent simply because I read an article that said the recovery wasn’t nearly as close to 100% assured as I originally thought, but it really didn’t have anything to do with my original thought process.

  17. The Pirates have earned a strong reputation for identifying talent, and that they think that there are 5 SP’s with a possibility of being able to pitch in the majors in 2016 is fantastic. Of the NGT’s, Chad Kuhl has been my favorite, but let’s not sleep on Trevor Williams either – he has posted some strong numbers moving up through the Marlins system. He had an excellent career at Arizona St, but he had his worst year, 6-6 in his Junior year, and fell to the second round of the draft. As a Soph he was 12-2, 2.05 with 16 Starts and averaged about 7 IP/start. Very strong numbers for a SP in the always strong PAC 12

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