PITTSBURGH -- As this year's No. 1 Draft pick Gerrit Cole prepares to begin his tenure with the Pirates in Bradenton, Fla., this week, the club's previous first-rounder, Jameson Taillon, is nearing the end of his first professional season.
Following some time in extended spring camp, Taillon reported to Class A West Virginia in late April, where he has pitched all season. After a four-inning outing on Friday, the right-hander has now logged 79 2/3 innings in 20 starts.
The numbers aren't stellar -- a 4.52 ERA, 83 hits allowed -- but the progress behind the numbers has been encouraging to the Pirates.
"Jameson has had an interesting year," general manager Neal Huntington said of the 2010 No. 2 overall Draft pick. "At about any time, Jameson can blow away just about any low-A hitter with his breaking ball. It's been a bigger focus on, for the big picture: Command the fastball, command the fastball, command the fastball. Don't rely on the breaking ball to get a weak hitter out."
"As a result," Huntington continued, "Jameson will get hit. The 19- and 20-year-olds, they can hit a fastball. And so it's about a bigger-picture development for Jameson."
Even as Taillon's fastball command continues to develop, he has maintained stellar control. He's walked only 18 and has struck out 80. Left-handed hitters are batting just .211 against him, while right-handed batters are hitting at a .304 clip.
"We'd rather have him challenge hitters and learn what he can and can not do," Huntington said. "He is learning that even at 97 [mph] or 100 [mph], it can't be in the middle of the plate. He is learning some very valuable lessons this year, and we are very pleased with where he is developmentally. We're putting him in position to win in Pittsburgh, not in low-A ball."