All Eyes On AAA Indianapolis Tonight

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Tonight is a big night for the AAA Indianapolis Indians. First off, prized Pirate right-handed pitching prospect Jameson Taillon will be making his second start of the season tonight. In his first start of the season Taillon gave up 1 run on 6 hits, 0 walks, and 6 strikeouts in 6 innings pitched. Tonight will be just Taillon’s second professional start since 2013, so I will be curious to see how Taillon pitches.

Feb 13, 2014; Bradenton, FL, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Jameson Taillon at Pittsburgh
Feb 13, 2014; Bradenton, FL, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Jameson Taillon at Pittsburgh /

Jameson Taillon will be looked upon to give the Pirate rotation a shot in the arm this summer. If not for injuries the past two seasons, Taillon would already be in the Major Leagues. In his last start the Victory Field radar guns had Taillon sitting at around 94mph, but Pirate General Manager Neal Huntington said yesterday that his velocity was actually slightly better than this. Huntington also commented on how crisp Taillon’s pitches were in his last start. Jameson Taillon is very quickly becoming Major League ready.

Another reason to keep an eye on AAA Indianapolis tonight is that third baseman Jung-Ho Kang will begin his rehab stint with AAA tonight. Kang has been in extended Spring Training recovering from knee surgery last September, but Kang is ready to begin his Minor League rehab stint and appears to be very close to returning to the Majors. If all goes well, we should see Kang back at third base for the Pirates by the end of April.

While the Pirate offense has been strong so far this season, they do lead the Majors in batting average and on base percentage after all, they have had their struggles hitting with men on base. Jung-Ho Kang slashed .308/.371/.451/.822 with men on base last season, and .283/.364/.451/.816 with runners in scoring position. So adding Kang’s bat to the lineup should help the Pirates with their hitting with men on base woes.

Finally, there is also reliever Jared Hughes who will be beginning his Minor League rehab stint with AAA Indianapolis tomorrow. In his five Major League seasons Jared Hughes has been one of the most reliable right-handed middle relievers in the National League. Hughes has 250 career innings pitched and in those 250 innings he has posted a 2.77 ERA, 2.9 BB/9, 0.61 HR/9, and an outstanding 62% groundball rate.

The Pirates biggest problem so far this season has been middle relief. Arquimedes Caminero (5.30 FIP), Corey Luebke (10.34 FIP before going on the DL), and Kyle Lobstein (6.14 FIP) have all had their struggles this season. However, adding Hughes back to the Pirate middle relief equation should help the bullpen immensely.

The Pirates do not play tonight, but their AAA affiliate the Indianapolis Indians will be worth keeping an eye on. Jameson Taillon will make his second start of the season for Indianapolis tonight, while Jung-Ho Kang and Jared Hughes begin Minor League rehab stints there. If you have nothing else to do, checkout the Indians game.