Jameson Taillon Is Back

It’s been a frustrating two years for Jameson Taillon.

The Pirates righthander had ranked as one of the top 30 prospects in all of baseball for five straight seasons since signing as the No. 2 overall pick in 2010. He reached Double-A as a 21-year-old in 2013, but Tommy John surgery in April 2014 kept him out the entire season. Then, just as he was about to begin his 2015 season, a sports hernia kept him off the mound the whole year.

On Wednesday, for the first time in two years, Taillon pitched in an official minor league game. The start was encouraging, both in terms of the results and the way Taillon looked on the mound. Pitching for Triple-A Indianapolis, Taillon allowed one run over six innings, with six strikeouts, no walks and five hits allowed.

Taillon’s fastball mostly operated at 90-94 mph—not quite the same heat he often flashed in 2013, but it’s April and his first start of the year—with the ability to get swing-and-miss both on his fastball and his secondary pitches. His hammer curveball in particular looked sharp, a plus pitch with tight spin and deep top-to-bottom action that Toledo (Tigers) hitters swung through several times.

James Taillon 3 Pitches April 13 2016

While Taillon has a strong, physical frame at 6-foot-5, 240 pounds, durability has to be a concern given his lack of innings the last two years and how much of a workload the Pirates are willing to put on him in 2016. But with Taillon and Tyler Glasnow in Triple-A, the Pirates have two pitchers with future starter upside who should be able to help them in Pittsburgh this season.

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