Taillon, who finished last year with Triple-A Indianapolis and will attend Bucs camp for the second time, was ranked as the fifth-best right-handed pitching prospect in baseball by MLB.com this week. This is the third straight time Taillon has made the list, which features Arizona farmhand Archie Bradley as No. 1 this year.
Bradley, Taijuan Walker (Mariners), Noah Syndergaard (Mets) and Jonathan Gray (Rockies) were ranked ahead of the 22-year-old Taillon, who was taken with the second-overall pick four summers ago. Taillon’s rise through the minors has been consistent, if not necessarily quick, which is to be expected for a high school-age draftee.
MLB.com broke down each prospect’s repertoire based upon the traditional numerical scouting scale, with 20 being the worst grade and 80 the best. Taillon was graded as a 65 overall, the same mark that each of the top six on the prospect list received, including Houston’s Mark Appel, who declined to sign with the Pirates after they drafted him in 2012.
Taillon’s fastball, a mid-90s offering which is deemed by MLB.com to have “heavy sink,” is rated as a 65. His “power” curveball is close behind at 60, while his changeup and control receive 55 grades. Taillon does not throw a slider.
Fellow Pirates prospect Tyler Glasnow was given an honorable mention on the top 10 list. At 6-foot-7, the 2011 fifth-rounder is an inch taller than Taillon and throws harder – Glasnow’s heater has been topping out at 99 mph.
While pitching for Low-A West Virginia, Glasnow led the Class-A South Atlantic League with 164 strikeouts (13.3 per nine innings). Like Taillon, he also features a strong curveball to keep hitters off balance.
With Gerrit Cole having already impressed in his MLB debut and Taillon likely to turn up in Pittsburgh sometime soon, the Pirates are looking at a potentially bright future in the starting pitching department. Glasnow waits further back, giving the Bucs a pipeline of power righties in their minor-league system.