Taillon Wants To Be A Pirate

Righty ready to help turn franchise around





PITTSBURGH—The Pirates are in a hurry, their fans are in a hurry, and Jameson Taillon is in a hurry. Everyone concerned wants to see him pitch at PNC Park, though it will probably be baby steps in 2011.

The hard-throwing, 6-foot-5 righthander will open the season—and his professional career—in the rotation for low Class A West Virginia, an aggressive placement for a 19-year-old, and management has made it clear that expectations will be low. Pitching coordinator Jim Benedict met with Taillon during the team's January minicamp in Bradenton, Fla., and laid out modest goals.

"The first thing he told me was that they know I went second overall for a reason and I don't need to place unrealistic pressure on myself," Taillon said. "Learn how to throw every fifth day. Learn the throwing program. Throw first-pitch strikes. Get early-count ground balls. Don't walk people. Go seven innings on 80 pitches. Focus on the simple things."

At the same time, no one can deny a desire to make those simple things zip by as fast as Taillon's 99 mph fastball.

"I want to succeed, and I want to help Pittsburgh win," Taillon said. "They wouldn't have picked me second if they didn't want me to help sooner rather than later. But they also want to take the time to develop me right."

The first of Taillon's steps came with meeting some of Pittsburgh's veterans in minicamp.

"I'm a lot more comfortable now, knowing Pirate City, knowing some of the guys. It's even more than I expected, just awesome, that sound of hearing the ball hitting the bats and gloves," Taillon said. "I look up to all these guys, and I aspire to be like them. Just watching the throwing programs, these guys are money on every throw. I know I have that prospect label, and I might have good stuff, but there's a lot I need to learn."

Stetson Allie, the Pirates' second-round pick and Taillon's offseason training partner, also will be in West Virginia's rotation.

TREASURE TROVE

• The Pirates invited five prospects to major league spring training: catchers Tony Sanchez and Eric Fryer, infielders Chase d'Arnaud and Brian Friday and outfielder Andrew Lambo. The inclusion of d'Arnaud was a small surprise after a down year, but management wanted to show its confidence in him.

• The major league bullpen was so depleted of lefthanders that management made known that prospects Daniel Moskos and Tony Watson are in the mix for the big league team.