Pittsburgh Pirates: New Prospect Taylor Hearn

Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports /

Yesterday the Pittsburgh Pirates traded Mark Melancon for left-handed reliever Felipe Olivero and left-handed pitching prospect Taylor Hearn.  Hearn looks to be a very intriguing prospect going forward.

Taylor Hearn has been a highly sought after prospect over the last four years.  In fact, he has been drafted by teams four times.  The first was in 2012 when the Pittsburgh Pirates made him their 22 round pick.  He passed on his commitment and attended junior college.  Over the next two seasons he was drafted twice out of junior college is the 36th and 25th round respectfully.  He then left San Jacinto college and headed to Oklahoma Baptists University to finish his college career.  The move paved off and he became a fifth round draft pick by the Nationals in 2015.

He was very impressive in his final season at Oklahoma Baptist pitching to a 9-0 record in 13 starts (he also made two relief appearances).  In those games he pitched 64.1 innings he tallied 71 strikeouts.  The biggest thing that made Hearn a fifth round pick was that fact his walks per nine innings were at 4.62.

Hearn has the look of your typical raw pitching prospect.  He stands at 6 feet five inches tall and is filled out at about 205 pounds.  His best pitch is his fastball, he has a long, lose arm and is able to to sit around 95 miles per hour consistently in starts and can ramp it up close to 100 when he wants.  His fastball also has good movement on it causing a lot of soft contact and swings and misses.

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He also has a plus pitch in his slider.  He is able to throw it in the high 80s and it has sharp movement.  It is still a work in progress however, as he needs to develop better command of it.  Now, as usual, his worst pitch is his change-up.  With most young, raw pitchers a change-up will be the key to Hearn’s success as a starting pitcher.  If he is able to develop his change-up to an average offering then he will have a good shot at developing into a starting pitcher, if not he will be a relief pitcher, albeit with still a huge upside in that role.

Hearn has not pitched a lot in his first full season.  He made two starts for the Nationals Gulf Coast affiliate and was very impressive throwing to a 1.42 earned run average.  He then was moved up to Low-A and has appeared in eight games and has done well including a 3.18 earned run average and striking out 31 batters in 22.2 innings.  The other great thing to see is that he only walked seven hitters in those innings pitched.  That all equates to 12.3 strike outs and 2.8 walks per nine innings pitched. So far it seems Hearn is commanding his pitches better.  However, you could also argue that hitters are over matches by his stuff, kind of how Tyler Glasnow has had his success in the minor leagues.  In fact, the scouting report on Hearn sounds a lot like Tyler Glasnow.

Hearn only made 2 starts in Low-A Hagerstown for the Nationals and six relief appearances.  He suffered a broken foot at the beginning of this season which set him back.  According the Neal Huntington the plan is to use Hearn as a starter.  The Pittsburgh Pirates always give their prospects the opportunity to make it as a starter.  Hearn has great stuff and could be a really good starting pitcher. He has great size, and a great arm.  If he does not make it as a starter he has the potential to be a big league back-end of the bullpen option.

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Hearn has big time upside to go along with his big arm and big build.  Regardless of what he ends up being in the majors, Taylor Hearn should develop into at-least top fifteen prospect if not higher in the organization.  He is still young, and does not have a lot if innings behind him yet to be considered higher than his current ranking of 28th in the Pittsburgh Pirates system. If he continues to limit walks and develop his pitches he could be a big time prospect by the time he reaches Triple-A.