Jameson Taillon was going up against the Richmond Flying Squirrels. Richmond is the worst hitting team in the Eastern League, but they do rank second in walks on the young season. The (Low?) Flying Squirrels also have struckout 117 times already, second worst in the EL.
It was a strange outing. On paper, we believed Taillon might have dominated, and at times he did. It was also evident that the young right-hander does, not surprisingly, still have some work to do. The Flying Squirrels are the farm club of the San Francisco Giants and their lineup isn’t filled with top prospects. The Giants system has a number of likeable arms, but no real star power hitters–at this point anyway.
But the one quality that stands out when Taillon gets in trouble is his composure. It appeared to my untrained eye that he was overthrowing and having a challenge with his stride and some long arm action. The hammer curveball missed in key situations early, looking 11-5-ish– and we really belive he could have been squeezed, –but he didn’t let it faze him even as he glared routinely at the runners on first and second.
The bullpen started to make some movement as the pitch count was climbing near that dreaded 30 mark. It’s about the time that as a Pittsburgh Pirates fan, you start planning on feeling some pain, thinking about a really good beer to drink before noon, anything…hell, almost anything but having to watch your team get beat around.
Taillon blocked the sight of Carlos Paulino running to the bullpen and came right back. A big strikeout of the Giants 2011, 3rd-round pick out of USC, Ricky Oropesa — certainly made a lot of fans happy, because everyone in the park received FREE BIG MACS!
The Flying Squirrels stranded both runners when Mark Minicozzi–out of Wayne, PA–grounded out to end the threat.
We need to stop the panic attacks I guess. But then it started to come back in the third. The bumpy, third inning was a bit longer than usual, but Taillon settled in and never looked back. Overall, he had a good handle on his pitching effort today. It just didn’t have that complete feeling–the walks, the hard hit balls, but when he hit fifth gear, the thought of a Flying Squirrels comeback was in the rearview. His effort was especially evident in the fact that he retired 12 of the 13 final batters he faced, of course with some help from his left fielder.
"“As the game went on, I picked up my pace and intensity. I started pounding the zone and was able to power downhill with my fastball. We played a pretty long game yesterday [before it was suspended], so I really wanted to go out there and eat up some innings. That’s something I take pride in — to be decently efficient and make the most of my pitches.”"
We must say that we expected a bit more. The beginning was just too shaky for us. It’s important to point out, that one player Taillon can thank for getting so deep in the game is left-fielder Drew Maggi who made one nice diving play and then caught a ball at the base of the left-field wall that will go down as one of the nicest grabs of the season. It could have easily gone for a triple if Maggi didn’t hang on to it. ( Check out the video below )
Here’s the bottom line, Taillon has now given up just two runs in 18 innings with 20 strikeouts and seven walks. Luck was on his side today, but so was his composure–and that’s a nice thing to see.
We only have a few bullet points left:
The drop and drive we had seen early on, is about all the way out of his delivery. We did some video and picture framing, but won’t bore you with it. The delivery is repeatable–even with some odd pointing of the feet at times.
The Taillon changeup is a work in progress. We think that’s the pitch that elevates him to a solid #2 for the Buccos. If he doesn’t get a better feel for that change-up– it’s A.J. Burnett-like for Taillon. The action on the pitch doesn’t seem consistent to us.
The interesting part of his stuff today was we wonder how it would have went against a better hitting team?
Charlie Cutler and Taillon were locked in. We can’t remember seeing the Bucs first rounder every shaking off the Curve catcher more than a couple times.
Taillon looks awkard as hell at the plate. If you ever get to see him, be sure to watch that part of his game. He makes contact, it’s just a big swing. It would be cool to see him get around early on a ball.
We didn’t bring a stopwatch, but Taillon appears a bit slower to the plate than we recall.
Andrew Lambo got some (brief) time at first base. If he keeps hitting, and that’s a big if, and if he stays healthy, and that’s a big if, we could see him getting more of a look at 1B. It would be a smart plan actually.
How awesome is that guy doing for the Buccos now that was hittin’ in the two hole on 2011 Curve Opening Day????
We once chased a flying squirrel around a house we lived in, and then they multiplied. By the end of the summer season, well, you don’t know how many we encountered. I still have nightmares about those (endangered?) animals.