Sunday, June 6, 2010

Looking Ahead to the Draft- What Will The Pirates do at #2

By 7:15 tomorrow evening, we will know who will be the next big piece of the Pirates rebuild.  With Bryce Harper surely to go to the Nats, the Pirates likely will choose between high school ss Manny Machado (featured yesterday) and high school right hander Jameson Tallion (pictured to the left).

Most scouts agree that after the top three prospects (Harper, Machado and Tallion) that there is no real difference from prospects number four to 44.  Therefore, despite the cost and the presence of Scott Boras, it is vital the Pirates take one of the two and lock up a deal.

The Pirates have had the number two pick on two previous occasions- selecting OF Mark Merchant in 1987 and 3B Pedro Alvarez in 2008.  Merchant was one of only two players picked second overall that never reached the majors.  With so many of the Pirates youngsters on the verge of the majors in the next 2-3 seasons, it is vital they continue things and have another good draft.  We can't have another Chad Hermansen, Bryan Bullington, Daniel Moskos, Bobby Bradley, Sean Burnett or JVB (I could go on with this list all day long).  NH needs to go for impact.  We need a stud with this pick.

I looked at Machado yesterday, so today let's take a look at Tallion.  First the scouting report

Jameson Taillon
The Woodlands HS (Texas)

Ht/Wt: 6-7/230
B/T: R/R
Year: Senior
Age at Draft: 18y7m

Filed By: Nick James

Filed On: August 18, 2009

Last Updated: April 30, 2010

Aflac All-American Game, August 16, 2009 (film)

Under Armour All-America Game, August 8, 2009 (in attendance)

Perfect Game National Showcase, June 11-14, 2009 (film)

Perfect Game World Showcase, January 3-4, 2009 (film)

Close to maxed-out, but already big league body. Sturdy, workhorse build. Good athleticism and well above-average body control. Moves well and shows excellent awareness of his actions.

Taillon has a simple side step into his motion with little movement in his upper-body. He has an exaggerated closed leg kick (closed all the way to the LF side of the 3B bag), adding some deception and making it difficult for the hitter to pick-up the ball out of his low hand break. He moves to a drop-and-drive approach to the plate as he begins to rotate his body back towards home. Explosive in his stride, he has a sizeable step, giving his arm plenty of time to get into the cocked position as he plants. He gets good hip/shoulder separation, creating good rotation through his core and helping to generate his plus velocity. He drives directly towards home consistently, fully utilizing all the momentum he builds-up through his kick and stride. His arm comes from a 3/4 slot and is easy, coming across his body. His follow-through could be cleaned-up some, falling off towards first (though he's generally under control). Most impressive is his body control and the repeatability of his mechanics -- a rarity in a high schooler with such a big body. One other "knock" is that Taillon can get a little stiff (some would call it herky-jerky) in his actions, but he repeats well and there aren't big flags on the arm action outside of flashing the ball some (which can be cleaned-up).


Fastball - Generally sitting 93-95 mph with good life, touching 96 (reports have him as high as 98 mph this spring). Taillon can pound the zone with his fastball and it's good enough to simply throw by hitters at this point. He'll need to improve his command in the zone, but it's already a plus pitch that could be plus-plus down the line.
Curveball - Taillon's curve is an impressive power breaking ball with 2-plane action and plus late bite. Already excellent depth, the pitch could be a plus to plus-plus offering as he improves his feel and command. Potential strikeout pitch as both swing-and-miss and in the zone. Through the summer/fall, he sat 77-81 mph with the pitch, which is what I've seen from reports this spring, as well.

Slider - Taillon's wipeout slider has good tilt and comes out of the same slot as his fastball. Low- to mid-80s on the gun (82-84 mph) and could be another swing-and-miss offering at the pro level. Doesn't command pitch yet.
Change-up - Not needed much at this point, but shows feel for the pitch. Good arm speed. Could be yet another average to above-average offering depending on the work put in. Good velo separation from fastball (around 10 mph), but can throw too hard.

Nick's Notes:

Taillon has been nothing short of incredible each time I've seen him (on film and in person), and I do not pass that compliment out lightly. As mentioned above, his body control really stands out for such a big-body. There's an excellent combination here of well above-average pure stuff, an ideal Major League pitcher's body, athleticism and poise. In some ways, this past summer made things more difficult on Taillon, as he set the bar very high for the spring season and opened himself up to an extra level of criticism reserved for those picks under consideration for top 3 overall selection. At the same time, I never expected to enter the 2010 season with anyone but Bryce Harper atop my big board -- while Harper has retained his crown, Taillon has given everyone reason to examine that slot more closely. He has all the makings of a potential front-end starter, with price tag and his Rice commitment the only potential hurdles to top 5 overall selection.

Projected Position: Front-end Starter

4/30/2010 - Taillon has enjoyed a successful spring, though he has been dinged some due to the extra scrutiny thrown his way after a wildly successful summer/fall. The most common complaints are a couple of outings in which he surrendered some hits and runs, and a stated "inconsistency" in his stuff from start to start. Some have also referred to his stuff as "hittable". Based on my few conversations with some baseball people in the Houston area, these reports are primarily examples of picking at nits, and there are no red flags with Taillon that should greatly alter his position as top arm in the draft class (and one of the better high school arms in recent years). One person in particular, who I spoke with at the Houston College Classic the night after Taillon's sole loss of the season (a 2-0 loss to CC Moody HS), stated several scouts in attendence were almost going out of their way to find something to point out as an "issue", but that "Jamo" was his same dominant self with easy plus stuff. Taillon has posted multiple double-digit strikeout performances, highlighted by a 19 SO no-hitter against Conroe HS. On the year he has totaled 96 SO in just 47 IP. Nothing unexpected has cropped-up to alter his stock, and he should be the first prep arm off the board based solely on talent and OFP (Overall Future Potential).

11/27/2009 - Taillon's summer/fall circuit did not conclude in Jupiter, as he opted to skip the event in favor of shutting down after a long summer of traveling and throwing. His last pre-season showcase came in the form of two starts for Team USA's 18U squad in the PanAm Games, posting an impressive line of 13.2 IP, 7 H, 28 SO, 3 BB and .149 BAA. His starts came against Panama and Cuba, with the gold medal Cuba start resulting in a single-game record of 16 strikeouts over 7.2 IP and his second win of the tournament.

8/18/2009 - Taillon continues to roll on, making a case to be the first high school player off the board next June, and perhaps the top overall. Taillon cruised through two innings at PetCo in the Aflac All-American Game, striking out four batters in the process. He's still sitting mid-90s with his fastball, even after a long summer circuit.

8/15/2009 - Taillon took home MVP honors for Team One at the Under Armour All-America Game. He was selected by PnR Scouting as the top performer at the event (article here; rankings here).

Other scouting reports have Tallion often clocked at 99 and compared to Roger Clemens at times.  I went with the worst scouting report I saw.  The kid looks on film like the real deal and he's already got a big body and live arm.  Here is a look at Tallion.

I love the 6'7 big body and the live arm and the fact that he has four pitches he commands pretty well.  He is also the only other player that scouts say should go number one, ahead of Harper.  One area to be concerned with is that he is a high school arm.  High school pitchers taken in the Top 3 generally don't pan out and that will likely be the Pirates excuse for passing on him.

Only seven prep pitchers have been taken in the top three in the last 20 years.  Josh Beckett and Steve Avery had good careers while the other five never made it, including Brien Taylor.  However, he is an arm from Texas and that actually means a great deal.  Texas pitchers are power pitchers and have numbers on their side. Only 19 of 43 prep pitchers taken in the Top 10 the last ten seasons have made the majors and half of them are from Texas.

I'm torn on who to take, Machado or Tallion.  I love both guys.  You can never have too much pitching, but the Pirates seem to have some good arms throughout their system right now.  For that reason, I may lean towards Machado a little more. However, I can't pass up on a big power arm like Tallion.  So my pick at #2 is indeed Jameson Tallion.

Who will the Pirates pick?  I'm guessing LHP Drew Pomeranz from the University of Mississippi.  He's a very talented arm with almost an unhittable curve ball,  but there is no way the Pirates should pass up on either Machado or Tallion.  Though you know as well as I do, that they tend to not take the best player.

There are three players labeled "can't miss" in this draft.  At 7:15 tomorrow night, one of the three better be property of the Pirates.


  1. take the pitcher. Tallion seems like a stud.

  2. Guarenteed they pass on the 2 guys with the talent and take Pomeranz or the injure P from LSU who they like

  3. The Pirates BETTER draft Tallion.

  4. No way they pay for either machado or Tallion. Eapecially after the Alvarez fiasco. It will likely be Pomeranz

  5. Buster Olney has reported that indeed the choice is down to two. It's either going to be Machado or Tallion

  6. I will believe it when I see it

  7. They will draft Tallion over machado. Machado is signed with Boras, Tallion isnt