BRADENTON, Fla. – The Triple-A and Double-A teams were at Pirate City this afternoon, and Jameson Taillon took the mound for his first start since being cut from big league camp. Taillon threw three innings, giving up no runs on just two singles, and striking out a few batters in the process. He looked great once again, showing the same thing that I saw last year before his hernia surgery.

Taillon was sitting 93-96 MPH with his fastball, throwing the pitch with an easy delivery, and getting it down in the zone. This is something he couldn’t do several years ago, before his Tommy John surgery. His curveball was the usual plus offering, and the way he was sequencing the pitches today was excellent, dropping the curve in early for strikes on a few occasions.

You’ve heard me rave enough about how Taillon looked last year. I was one of the few (maybe only?) people who got a chance to see him, since he only threw rehab appearances in Florida. But now that he’s back on the mound, more people are getting a chance to watch him. I was watching him today with Baseball America editor JJ Cooper, who hadn’t seen Taillon since before the surgery. We were rotating back and forth taking our own videos, and I’m sure he will have something more detailed later at Baseball America, but here was the immediate reaction after Taillon’s second inning of work:

You can watch the second and third innings in the video below. My favorite part is the second batter of the second inning. Taillon worked quick (I left this mostly uncut to show how quick he worked, except for cutting out the breaks between the two foul balls), starting off with a few curveballs to work a 1-1 count, then getting ahead with the fastball, and finally finishing off the batter with a 95 MPH fastball on the outside corner, framed well by Reese McGuire.

The next batter up was started off with a 94 MPH fastball that missed outside, but Taillon got him swinging way out in front with an 89 MPH changeup. After another fastball, he finished off with two curveballs, getting the batter to ground out to first to end the outing.

“It felt good,” Taillon said of his start today. “It’s tough to tell whenever you’re playing [at Pirate City]. There’s so much adrenalin. There’s no fans, music between innings. It felt good, delivery felt good. I threw a lot of strikes, [33] pitches in three innings. The more pitches I can save off my arm, the better.”

Taillon was efficient, throwing only five pitches total in the second inning, thanks to a key double play. He threw extra pitches in the bullpen at the end of the start, getting his total up to 45, which was his limit today.

The Pirates want Taillon getting more experience against upper level competition, since he was limited last year, and hasn’t pitched in an official game in two years.

“A big thing for me is getting some of that rust off with hitters,” Taillon said. “I know how to get upper level hitters out, but the big thing for me is maybe knowing a situation to throw the changeup, or trying to get back to that gut feeling.”

Rather than just throwing pitches, Taillon said he needs to work on reading swings, game plans, and knowing when to throw each pitch. He did a great job of that last part today. Mechanically, Taillon looks ready.

Other Notes

**I spent a few innings inside today, talking with Taillon for an upcoming feature, and processing the video. So there’s not much in terms of observations, but still some good notes today.

**One thing that Kevin Newman has going for him in a big way is his speed. Kevin Kramer has the same skill, to a lesser extent. Today, Newman singled in the first inning, and then scored from first on a triple by Kramer off the wall in the right-center gap. Both players were flying, with Newman scoring easily, and Kramer stretching out what probably would have been a double for most players. Those two will be going to Bradenton this year, and while there’s not a lot of power in their games, they are both toolsy guys who can hit for average, drive to the gaps, and use their speed for extra bases.

**Jose Osuna has been an impressive hitter the last few years, and he’s looked good in camp so far. Considering his history, that doesn’t really stand out to me, as it’s not a surprise when he gets a hit. But I have been impressed at how often he uses the opposite field. Today he had a single and a double to the opposite field in the first half of his game. That’s a great way to avoid the shift, and maintain a high average.

**John Kuchno pitched two innings in relief today, relying mostly on his sinker, which was sitting 90-93 MPH, and his slider, which was 82-86. Kuchno is an extreme ground ball guy who throws primarily fastballs, and his build and approach are enough for me to give one of my rare player comps, comparing him to Jared Hughes.

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37 COMMENTS

  1. Great video, Tim. I don’t know how these things work, but I feel like if this Taillon coverage was combined into a series it should win some sort of award.

    As for the pitcher himself, isn’t it fascinating how they’ve overhauled his delivery yet left his arm action largely the same? Cleaned up a bit to fit the timing of his new stride, but he still very much has that tell-tale Taillon arm swing. My only concern at the big league level is whether or not the fastball will have enough life to counter the complete lack of deception in his delivery. I obviously can only guess at the precision of how these things work, but showing the ball that clearly, that early, has to be easy to pick up.

  2. I don’t want to sound like a broken record, but of all of our top prospects Tallion is the one who I think can be a true #1 if he can remain healthy. With a fastball that is a plus pitch along with that hammer curve and decent change up I think he’s got what it takes to be an ace in that rotation for years to come. Hopefully the injury bug has bitten him enough already and he remains healthy moving forward.

      • Right on Leo. I don’t know why as feel as strongly as I do about him, I’ve just keep thinking he can be something special. Health is obviously key moving forward, but all the tools are there. I know more top prospects flame out and not make it and to be great takes so much work to go with the talent but I think he may be a good one. I’m rambling….. Sorry Leo,lol

  3. Have they definitively placed an inning limit they plan to hold him to? Is 160 to 180 too optimistic?

    • They would probably have more of a total pitch count on Taillon than an actual number of innings. And they also differentiate between high stress and low stress pitches.

  4. “Mechanically, Taillon looks ready.” Reading that phrase and then watching the video was a good way to end my day. That curveball and what looks like a stress free consistent delivery bodes well for his future. II am looking forward to attending his first start at PNC this summer.

  5. Good news regarding Taillon….it sounds like all of the velocity has returned, alleviating that concern. I suspect we will need him before June, as I have zero confidence in our 3, 4, and 5 starters.

    • Even if they need him I don’t think a handful of starts would be worth giving up an extra year of control. Unfortunately.

      • It is unfortunate, and we will fail to win the division because of that kind of decision making. We’ll sacrifice games in the first 2-3 months that cannot be made up later.

        • If bringing up taillon or bell or anyone else early would guarantee a division title then that that would be a discussion worth having but it doesn’t. Its just not that black and white.

          • No one can provide any guarantees of anything, especially winning a division title. But, I certainly like our chances a lot better with improved talent in the rotation, even if it is still a work in progress. Give me Taillon and Glasnow now, over Vogelsong and Locke, any day of the week – its a no brainer, even with the obvious growing pains. They will both get better and better and each has the kind of stuff to dominate any lineup. It worked for the Mets last year.

            • But it’s not as straightforward as taillon and Glasgow vs Vogelsong and Locke right now. It’s a month or two of taillon and Glasgow now vs losing an entire year of them in the future when they will hopefully be much better. Ignoring that fact is the definition of stepping over dollars to pick up pennies.

        • So you think Taillon starting from day 1 elevates us to near the same win expectancy as the Cubs?

          If so, im shocked at your optimism of how close we are to the Cubs. I jest, because i know the answer.

          • You compare our starting rotation, as currently constructed, to those of the Cubs, Dodgers, Nats, Mets, Cards, DBacks, Giants – and you tell me how we stack up? Do you feel more confident with the likes of Glasnow and Taillon in that rotation, or with Locke and Vogelsong? If you say the latter, you’re being dishonest for the sake of trying to win an argument…

            • Tremendously politician like in saying a ton but saying nothing.

              So i ask again, are you saying that the difference between us and the Cubs would be nearly made up by the switch of Vogelsong and Taillon? No one argues we’d feel more comfortable without Vogelsong, but thats not the question.

              • Luke, you are so childlike with your continual childish insults…its really pathetic, if you are indeed an adult. Grow up.

                • Unless kids these days are throwing down “you politician” on the playground, you are now just avoiding the question altogether.

                  3rd time is the charm: Do you feel the addition of Taillon and subsequent dropping of Vogelsong would get us close to the win total of the Cubs?

        • BFS: The Pirates decisions regarding the Rotation can certainly be questioned, but the Pirates limped out to an 18-22 record in the first quarter of 2015 due to a lack of hitting and an inconsistent bullpen.

          I would be more concerned with our offense than I would be concerned with Jon Niese and Jeff Locke. From fangraphs over the past 3 years Niese was 26-29 in 83 Starts and the #67 best SP with an xFIP of 3.85; Locke was 25-24 in 81 Starts and the #80 best SP with an xFIP of 4.02. These are VG numbers for #3 and #4 SP who both can hold runners, and both have GB rates above 50% over that 3 year period. Vogelsong is the wild card.

          If ST is any indicator, our overall hitting is lagging behind again.

  6. Thanks Tim, great footage. You guys have been doing an excellent job with the video this season- it really adds a lot to the already great value the site provides. And it’s especially nice for those of us who never get to watch any prospects in person.

  7. The future is bright especially in 17&18 they could be the all in WS years. Hope the CBA and tv deal with ROOT goes well.

  8. Why does everyone want to get rid of Mercer? He fields his postion well and at times can hit too. Let’s give him a chance and stop all this negativity. He might just surprise us all and put together an all star year.

    Garcia better start looking over his shoulder because Ozuna is getting ready to pass him on the depth chart.

    • Get rid of and improve upon are different.

      A few people want to just plain get rid of Mercer, but id guess most people would just like to upgrade over him if possible.

        • He’d be a great bench option, so long as he makes less than roughly 4-5 million.

          Competent yet not ideal starter. His biggest (and damn near only) asset is he plays an above average defense on a team that places defense at his spot super high.

  9. How do Newman and Kramer look at SS defensively? It seems like if either of them can hit for average and play good defense that they’d be an upgrade over Mercer in a few years. But then again if Mercer taps into that power of his it’s another story.

  10. Taillon’s curveball is fun to watch. Such late break, and such hard downward movement. I’m going to enjoy watching guys swing over that for the next several years, I think.

      • Tim, when do you think theyll call him up…June/July? I know they want it to take it slow with him, but they may need some reinforcements sooner rather than later.

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