The Pittsburgh Pirates traded left-handed pitching prospect Taylor Hearn to the Texas Rangers. Hearn was the key piece in the Keone Kela trade.
To get something, one must give something, and the Pittsburgh Pirates showed this yesterday. Baseball might have the toughest trade deadline out of all the major sports. While the NFL has a basically nonexistent trade deadline, and the NBA and NHL swapping mainly picks, the MLB sees multiple players going in trades every time one is made. Mainly, it is one team acquiring a veteran player while the other team is acquiring prospects. Often times it is a hard pill to swallow for both sides. The team getting the proven player is pumped to get a legitimate player, but they also have to trade young players who at one point were viewed as a big part of their future.
The Pittsburgh Pirates learned this lesson this past trade deadline. It is more often than not that the Pittsburgh Pirates are the team selling the proven player and acquiring the prospects. Even during their better years when they were dealing young players they were not given up the caliber of players that one would view as a future part of the team. However, this year Neal Huntington traded his highest rated prospect ever in Taylor Hearn. Hearn was rated by MLB Pipeline as the Pittsburgh Pirates number seven overall prospect.
While many fans were happy to see the Bucs be aggressive and give up an unproven prospect for a proven stud, it still was a tough pill to swallow. Since Hearn came into the organization, it has been raved about how he could be at worst a big-time reliever, with an upper 90s fastball from the left side. Of course, Hearn was the second player in the 2016 deadline deal that sent Mark Melancon to the Nationals. So far in the minors, he was used as a starter. This year he had such a good year that he actually started for the Eastern League in the Double-A All-Star game. So to see him go was tough for many fans, the dream of seeing him be another Felipe Vasquez made fans drool. However, how many times have fans drooled over a prospect to see them not pan out? Heck, they traded one of these former top prospects turned head-scratchers in Tyler Glasnow.
Taylor Hearn’s 2018
So what did Taylor Hearn do this year to deserve such high praise as a prospect this season? Well, as mentioned earlier, Hearn actually got to start the Double-A All-Star Game. He was having a very strong season for the Altoona Curve. Through his 19 starts with the Curve this season, the big lefty recorded an ERA of 3.12. The biggest note of Taylor Hearn is his power stuff and he showed that by striking out 112 batters in 104 innings pitched. Meanwhile, he only gave up 75 hits and posted a batting average against .198. He did this after a decent, but unspectacular, 2017 when he pitched to a 4.12 ERA in High-A Bradenton. So he looked to have turned a corner this year and started to really flourish.
Of course, there were some red flags about the now former Pittsburgh Pirates prospect. This year his strikeouts per nine innings has hit an all time low in his career. Also, his ground ball rate has dropped under 40 percent. He could have been a product of a very pitcher friendly league and home ball park. The Curve’s stadium is considered one of the most pitcher friendly in all of minor league baseball. When a power pitcher sees his ground ball rate go down and his fly ball rate go up, it often could suggest he will give up more home runs.
Still, that is nitpicking. Let’s be honest, Taylor Hearn has turned into a very promising prospect. He has all the physical size, standing at 6’5” and weighing 210 pounds. Also, the fact that he is a left handed pitcher with a fastball that reaches the high 90s and a plus slider. The ceiling is a good starting pitcher for Taylor Hearn. However, what actually makes Hearn such a good get for the Texas Rangers is that he has a really high floor as well. Worst case, Taylor Hearn ends up being a power backend of the bullpen arm. Either way, Hearn is a top 10 prospect whether he ends up as a starter or a reliever. He was definitely one to keep an eye on in the Pittsburgh Pirates system going forward. He was likely a tough give for Neal Huntington, but you have to give something to get something.