BLUF: Exceptional pitching prospect with huge FB-CB combo and massive upside.
The Player: Jameson Taillon (RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates) – Taillon was the second overall pick in 2010 and did not debut until the 2011 season. With Low-A West Virginia, he posted a 3.98 ERA across 92.2 innings (23 starts) with just 22 walks and 97 strikeouts as the Pirates handled him with kid gloves his first year. In 23 starts with High-A Bradenton in 2012, Taillon finished with a 3.82 ERA and just 98 strikeouts in 125 innings. He received a three-start cameo in Double-A at the end of the year and posted a 1.59 ERA with 18 strikeouts and just one walk in 17 innings.
Basis of Report: Compilation – Personal Observation (FIL 2010, SAL 2011, EL 2012), Industry Contacts
Body (6-6, 225): Fantastic frame. Excellent present strength in lower half and mature, well-built upper body. Long arms and legs. Physically imposing. Plus-plus body.
Delivery/Mechanics: Simple, repeatable and smooth delivery. Every part of it works well. Maintains excellent control and balance throughout. Shows good arm speed but will get a little long in back at times, causing the arm to drag behind his lower half. He corrects the problem quickly and shows the ability to make in-game adjustments. Quality overall mechanical profile.
Fastball (FB) Velocity (Wind-up): High – 99, Low – 91, Average 94-96, Grade – 70/70
Fastball (FB) Velocity (Stretch): High – 99, Low 90, Average 94-95, Grade – 60/70|
Fastball (FB) Movement: Solid natural life on the ball. No exceptional movement but has enough to help him. Relies more heavily on leverage and angle to the plate than movement. Average present and future. Grade – 50/50
Overall Fastball: Tremendous potential. Big velocity profile with projection to sit plus-plus in both the wind-up and stretch. Velo drops occasionally in stretch but that should be more easily sustained with experience/polish. Highly leveraged pitch. Aggressive with it and can blow it past hitters even when they know its coming. Still has modest potential for slight gain in average velo; could sit closer to elite range but plus-plus range is a near certainty. Grade – 60/70
Curveball (CB): Knockout pitch. Absolute hammer. Could dominate in the big leagues right now. Tight spin with good velocity. Sharp break, both horizontal and vertical. True plus-plus out pitch that he loves to throw to all parts of the zone and as a chase pitch. Trusts it implicitly. No additional growth needed. Grade – 70/70
Change-up (CH): Still developing. Shows modest feel for pitch. Has occasional arm speed but also slows and doesn’t trust it at times. Pitch shows some sink at times and could complement FB well if he can get the hang of it. High degree of pitchability suggests pitch can still develop. Average potential with work. May take another year or two to get the hang of it. Grade – 40/50
Control: Absolutely pounds the zone. Throws FB and CB for strikes as matter of routine. Little trouble repeating deliver, allowing for a near elite control-profile long term. Control of CH is still developing and may not come until comfort with pitch improves. Grade – 60/70
Command: Command projection is easy. Throws so m any strikes that just need refinement to demonstrate command. FB command is coming quickly as he showed an ability to move the ball to both sides of the plate. Still learning to consistently work FB down in the zone and elevate when he wants to, but that should come. Locates CB very well. Command of CH is way behind but that is to be expected. Below-average command overall right now but potential for plus with ease of delivery, consistency and current control profile. Grade – 40/60
Summation: Huge ceiling. Two pitches that can consistently show in the plus-plus range right now and have a high degree of certainty to pitch in that range long term. FB and CB are both dominating pitches that form a potent combo. Throws strikes with ease, aiding overall profile. CH and command must improve and have potential to do so in time. Very intelligent. Likes to attack and pitch off his two best pitches. Knows the art of pitching and doesn’t get caught just trying to chuck it past hitters. Strong number two projection. Falls short of true frontline upside until CH shows more progress.
Relative Risk: Low. Tremendous one-two punch with FB-CB combo, good feel, clean delivery, definite MLB starter.
Future: Taillon is approaching big-league readiness. He will return to Double-A this year and will focus on the development of his CH, his command and maintaining his aggressiveness on the mound. He has the potential to reach the big leagues in 2013 but will more likely arrive in June 2014 after his service time is pushed back. Taillon is a tremendous talent that will slot in well behind Gerrit Cole atop the Pittsburgh rotation.