Game Report: Taillon Airs Out In Second Start

INDIANAPOLIS—Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Matt Harvey, Chris Sale. It’s a who’s who of all-stars—and it’s also a list of players from the 2010 class who were drafted before and after Jameson Taillon.

Taillon’s very aware of those players and the situation, but don’t get the wrong idea. He’s not bitter that he missed two years because of Tommy John surgery and hernia surgery while they were making all-star teams and big money.

He is ready to join them, however. And, in two starts since his return to the mound, it seems he’s headed in the right direction.

On Monday against Triple-A Toledo (Tigers), Taillon—the No. 2 pick in 2010 behind Harper—showed close to the stuff that had him rated among the Pirates’ top four prospects the past six seasons.

In just his second start since the Arizona Fall League in 2013, Taillon ran his fastball up to 95 mph—maybe short of the high-90s he had pre-surgery but still plenty good—and showed a tight curveball with depth, and a hard changeup that runs 86-88 that he cuts in to righthanded hitters.

He gave up seven hits—many of them hard-hit—and two runs in 4 1/3 innings, but struck out four and did not walk a batter. Most importantly, he left because of his pitch count—89—and not injury.

Taillon threw 62 strikes and looked strong, with his 95 mph free and easy, and not max-effort.

“The arm is 100 percent full go,” Taillon said. “If anything I feel extra fresh, because I’ve had 900 and something days since my last start (before his first start on April 13).”

He worked two quick innings Monday before Toledo got some good swings, including an RBI single from former big leaguer Casey McGehee. An error by first baseman Josh Bell allowed another run to score, but Taillon turned Jordany Valdespin’s bat to dust with a fastball at 94 on the hands to stop the scoring at 2-0.

Taillon was facing Toledo for the second time in six days so perhaps they had him measured well in this start. But he mixed his pitches well, throwing a four-seamer, two-seamer, change and curve. He said he threw the two-seamer to get a ground ball.

The best curve was the one he threw to strike out Wynton Bernard, which you can see in the video below.

Even with his injury history, Taillon says he’s not fearful of throwing any pitch in any count.

“The injury is forgotten about,” he said. “If I’m going down, I’m going down my way. I don’t feel anything. If something were to happen … I’m not going to go down babying it. I’m going to go down my way.”

But Taillon is not thinking about that. He has too much to do and has a lot of catching up to do with his peers.

“I definitely see them, definitely know they’re up there doing their thing,” Taillon said of his draft classmates. “At the same time, I’m still only 24. I’ve got a lot of years ahead of me. I feel like I’m in a good spot to go up there and make sure people consider me a good grab from that class, too, and throw me in with those names.”


• Jung Ho Kang began a rehab assignment in Indianapolis on Monday after sustaining a broken leg and torn meniscus on a slide last September by the Cubs’ Chris Coghlan.

Kang played third base and was 0-for-3 with a walk. He scored a run.

“I am going to treat every game as if I am playing in Pittsburgh and do my best,” Kang said through translator H.K. Kim. “The rehab has been very positive.”

• Like Tyler Glasnow—as J.J. Cooper reported last August—Taillon has a long, slow delivery that gives baserunners a head start. Wynton Bernard and Thomas Field had easy steals against Taillon and catcher Jacob Stallings, who didn’t have a chance on either attempt.

• Indianapolis first baseman Josh Bell, the Pirates’ No. 3 prospect, is still learning to play first base and that’s the way it looked Monday. Bell muffed a roller from Steven Moya that allowed a run to score and had two others misplays that were not called errors. Bell led the Eastern League last season with 13 errors. He has cleaned up his footwork somewhat but looked uncomfortable wearing a first baseman’s mitt.

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