With all of the hype circulating around Gerrit Cole, Pittsburgh Pirates top prospect Jameson Taillon has been the forgotten one. Taillon was held out of his last start with a stiff neck and while Cole has earned two big league wins in his first Major League starts, Taillon is still stuck in Altoona with a roller coaster in his rear view mirror.
We asked Neal Huntington what Taillon has to prove in order to get promoted and the Bucs GM made it simple. Listen to the podcast here. Huntington said that the Bucs challenged Taillon to improve on his changeup.
Sometimes when a pitcher with the talent of Taillon throws a Double-A hitter a changeup, he’s doing him a favor. Jameson needs to trust in his changeup.
We started making comparisions to Brad Lincoln and while Huntington didn’t exactly make similar comparisions, it was obvious that Taillon needs to show the Bucs brass that he will work on the changeup before a promotion is handed down.
Maybe the message got through because Taillon pitched like a man on a mission last night for the Curve. The right-hander led Altoona to a tight 2-1 victory over Trenton giving up one unearned run in five innings of work with six strikeouts and no walks.
In 2013, Taillon has now thrown 66.1 innings at Double-A. The right hander has given up about a hit per inning and a strikeout per inning too. He’s been more impressive than his numbers, go see him if you can, he’s an exciting pitcher to watch live. I still wonder if he’s not the best option the Pirates have come in terms of pitching talent come September call-up time.
Trenton reached on six singles including three infield hits and two other grounders. Each time I have watched Taillon, the defense has always had lapses. But I also recall numerous strong defensive plays like the circus catches Drew Maggi made back in April when we stopped in Curve, PA to watch Taillon.
Taillon dominates Double-A hitters with consistency. On the surface, he appears ready for Triple-A. But Huntington mentioned that he must throw his change-up and that sometimes throwing a changeup that he still hasn’t refined, hurts Taillon’s stats line.
So considering all that, the only real question right now for us is, how many changeups did Taillon throw tonight? That might be the biggest signal of when Taillon gets the bump to Triple-A. (We say two more starts)