Earlier this afternoon, beat reporter Adam Berry announced that Jameson Taillon would be getting called-up tomorrow, June 8, to make his Major League debut. Through some crazy random happenstance, that date also coincides with Taillon no longer being eligible for Super Two status. Here is what Michael Schwarz had to say about the 24-year-old for our Pirates top-ten prospects list:
In 2013, as a 21-year-old pitching at AAA Indianapolis, Jameson Taillon made six starts, compiled a 3.89 ERA, and struck out 37 batters in 37 innings. He has not pitched since then due to multiple injuries, including TJ surgery, and he recently turned 24, so this Tier-2 ranking amounts to an educated guess based on pedigree--Pittsburgh selected him 2nd overall in the 2010 draft--past performance, and of course an assumption that he regains his health and resembles his pre-injury self. At full speed, Taillon boasts a strong 6'5" frame and perhaps the best three-pitch arsenal in the system. If all goes as planned, he will join Gerrit Cole and Tyler Glasnow atop one of the most dynamic young rotations this side of New York. Taillon's next start, however, almost certainly will not come in Pittsburgh, so fantasy owners will have a chance to monitor the young righthander in the minors as he works his way back from injury.
Taillon has shown little rust this season, despite having missed the entirety of 2014 and 2015. Through ten starts, he boasts the following line - 61.2 IP, 44 H, 6 BB, 61 K, 2.04 ERA, 1.93 FIP. And, more importantly, the scouting reports are glowing. Ben Badler of Baseball America noted that Taillon's velocity was down in his first start this season, sitting in the 90-94 MPH range, but it was an encouraging all-around performance; Grant Jones of Baseball Prospectus was similarly impressed with that start. Adam Hayes of BP penned a report on his May 14 start, and had Taillon's velocity sitting between 94 and 96 MPH, and noted that his control and command were quite good. For all of this, Taillon has legitimate top of the rotation potential.
All of this is extraordinarily comforting for a pitcher who lost so much time to injury. Taillon has been a consensus top-30 prospect since being drafted, and seeing him all the way back in such short order is encouraging, to say the least. Earning a promotion so quickly, Super Two deadline be damned, is impressive. Working with pitching coach/guru/whisperer Ray Searage can only help.
The question on every fantasy owners mind is whether Taillon is here to stay. I would hazard that that falls squarely on Taillon, though I suspect the Pirates will give him a fairly long leash. He is ostensibly being called-up to reinforce a staff that will likely be exhausted from today's double-header - but that ignores the issues with the rotation on the whole. Gerrit Cole is the team's only starter pulling his weight, and Francisco Liriano and Juan Nicasio have been mostly dreadful. Nicasio spent the vast majority of 2015 pitching in relief, and the Pirates have no reason to give him an extended opportunity in the rotation - and, for what it's worth, the bullpen could use the help, too. Jonathan Niese has improved of late, but he could be on the chopping block, as well, given his $10 MM team option for 2017.
I am confident that Taillon is ready to ply his craft at the highest level, and the Pirates are, too. The greatest concern for fantasy owners may well be his innings limit, which will likely end his season relatively early. Otherwise, he's here to stay.