Editorial: This week’s “Monday Minute” will take a look at three of the hot topics around the Pittsburgh Pirates right now. This will include Adam Frazier’s success, expectations for Jameson Taillon, and the upcoming draft.
Adam Frazier might just be the most popular player for the Pittsburgh Pirates right now. Last season, Frazier made a splash, hitting .301 in 66 games with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Meanwhile, Josh Harrison had a rocky season and many fans were unhappy with his performance. Entering the 2017 season, it all seems to be repeating itself. Harrison is off to a pedestrian start hitting .270 thus far. However, Frazier is hitting .343, and just had a big, put away home run against the Cubs.
Should he be the starter at second? The simple answer is no, at least not yet. Many compared Frazier’s success as a utility player to the same as Josh Harrison’s. Harrison had his breakout season in 2014, and it was in a super utility. It was rare for Harrison to start in the same spot multiple games in a row, but he still was getting to play almost every day. The Pirates tried rolling with Harrison as their starting second baseman after dealing Neil Walker, and Harrison has seemed to be exposed since. The same very well could happen to Adam Frazier. Let’s pump the breaks, and enjoy the success of the 25-year-old and allow him to continue and flourish in the role that he is in until needed otherwise.
Jameson Taillon made his long anticipated big league debut last season. Since being drafted in 2010, many fans have looked forward to that day. After moving through the minors and having a lot of success, the call was months away for Taillon in 2014. However, like many young pitchers, Taillon lost all of 2014 and most of 2015 to Tommy John Surgery. Then when he was close to returning, he suffered another setback costing him all of the 2015 season. Finally, Taillon reached the majors in 2016 and was very impressive. He posted a 3.38 ERA and a 3.71 FIP in 18 starts.
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Fans were encouraged by this and started to chatter about how he could potentially be this team’s future ace. So far in 2017 he has shown this. All he has done is post a 0.90 ERA in 3 starts. So far, he has been the team’s ace. However, why is this surprising? Flashback to 2010. The Pittsburgh Pirates had the number 2 overall selection and decided to draft Jameson Taillon. He was the top arm available in that draft class. He very well could have gone number 1 if it was not for “can’t miss” prospect Bryce Harper.
Essentially, the Pittsburgh Pirates drafted Taillon knowing that he would be a future top of the rotation arm. That is what you look to get when you invest a pick of that value in a player. So, why is this so surprising? He was the number2 overall pick and he has pitched in the system since 2011. Yes, he received Tommy-John Surgery, but is that even something that is a big concern in today’s game? Regardless, Jameson Taillon has been very good, and the expectations should stay that way for him.
Speaking of the MLB Draft, the Pittsburgh Pirates are less than two months away from yet another one. This year they have four picks on day one. This includes picks number 12, 42, 50, and 72 overall. This is a lot of picks to have, and because of this they could bring back some serious talent. The Bucs have graduated a lot of high prospects the last few years, and the system is starting to thin out. However, they likely can add a top prospect at number 12 and three other projectable ones with the other three picks.
This also could be the first time since 2012 that the Pittsburgh Pirates use a first round pick on a pitcher. That year they drafted Mark Appel, who they failed to sign. The two years prior they also spent first-round picks on pitchers in Jameson Taillon in 2010 and Gerrit Cole in 2011. Recently, the team has put many of their top pitching prospect in Triple-A or the Major Leagues. It may be time to start looking for the pitchers who will eventually replace Gerrit Cole or Ivan Nova when they leave via free agency.
The same can be said for the outfield. Austin Meadows is the only true outfielder ranked in MLB Pipeline’s top 30 Pittsburgh Pirates prospects. It seems logical that it would be time to add another legitimate one to the lower minors. However, this draft seems pitcher top heavy, with only one outfielder ranked in MLB Pipeline’s top 20 draft prospects. Nevertheless, the Pirates are less than two months away from what could be a big draft for them.
*All stats are courtesy of Baseball Reference
**All prospect rankings and draft rankings are from MLB Pipeline