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:
Watching Jameson Taillon today hard to believe he won't help the Pirates big league club at some point this year.
— JJ Cooper (@jjcoop36) March 16, 2016
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,  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.
**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.