After 2011 top pick Gerrit Cole dazzled in his first MLB season, the Pittsburgh Pirates could have another prime pitching prospect ready to make his big-league debut in 2014.
Because of those high expectations, the Bucs decided to play it safe with prized 2010 draft choice Jameson Taillon this fall.
Taillon, a 22-year-old power right-hander, sustained a groin strain in his first game with the Scottsdale Scorpions of the Arizona Fall League, where many young players get extra repetitions before the winter sets in. This news was reported by Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com, who also learned the Pirates were removing Taillon from the Scorpions roster and replacing him with Phil Irwin.
Taillon threw just shy of 150 innings this summer for Double-A Altoona and Triple-A Indianapolis, accumulating a 3.73 ERA in 25 starts. He also participated in March’s World Baseball Classic, where he tossed an impressive four innings for Canada against the Americans. Taillon started just six times for Indy, meaning he’ll likely have to perform capably at that level next spring before the Pirates will consider promoting him to Pittsburgh.
He still has something to prove in the minor leagues, but Taillon’s repertoire should play at the MLB level. Although he doesn’t throw quite as hard as Cole, Taillon fastball-curveball combination made him the No. 19 prospect according to Baseball America prior to the 2013 season and the 10th-best aspiring major leaguer in MLB.com’s postseason rankings.
Taillon’s assets made it an easy choice for the Pirates to take a cautious approach regarding his injury, as hopes are high he will take another large developmental step next year. If Taillon’s going to be Cole Part II, he’s going to need to be totally healthy starting in February.