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Taillon, Cole give Curve $14.5 million rotation

August 17, 2012 - Cory Giger
Two of the best pitching prospects in all of baseball now make up part of the Curve's starting rotation, with Jameson Taillon getting promoted to Double-A on Friday to join Gerrit Cole.

Those two pitchers account for $14.5 million worth of signing bonuses, giving the Curve one of the most valuable starting rotations in all of minor league baseball.

The Pirates promoted Taillon, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2010 draft, to the Curve on Friday after he went 6-8 with a 3.82 ERA in 23 starts for high-A Bradenton. Taillon received a $6.5 million signing bonus in 2010, which is second highest in franchise history behind only the $8 million given to 2011 No. 1 overall pick Cole, who has been with the Curve for two months.

"It's time for him to take on the next of the challenges," Pirates farm director Larry Broadway said of Taillon, a 20-year-old right-hander.

Taillon will make his Curve debut Tuesday at Trenton, then is scheduled to pitch at Peoples Natural Gas Field on Aug. 26.

The 6-foot-6, 225-pound right-hander, drafted out of The Woodlands High School in Texas in 2010, has made it to Double-A in just his second professional season. He went 2-3 with a 3.98 ERA in 23 starts for low-A West Virginia last season.

"I was very impressed with how he communicated and dealt with his teammates, how he handled adversity on the field, all the attention off the field," said Curve pitching coach Jeff Johnson, who worked with Taillon last season.

"He's a very humble young man, and he wants to get better," Johnson added.

Taillon opened the season at Bradenton and excelled early, posting a 1.46 ERA in five starts in April. His first two starts in May also were good (two runs in 12 innings), then he hit a rut in the middle of the season.

He allowed six runs in 5 2/3 innings on May 16, and he continued to struggle over the next month. His low point occurred when he was blistered for eight runs in 4 2/3 innings June 13 against Fort Myers.

"Even those struggles that he had were really good lessons for him," Broadway said. "I'm a firm believer in having some sort of failure at the minor league level so that when you get to the big leagues it isn't your first taste of failure."

Taillon bounced back from his worst start to throw seven shutout innings his next time out. He was up and down over his next five starts, but he's been superb in his last four outings, allowing just three earned runs in 22 innings.

"Some of his struggles were just innings got away from him. ... One run kind of turned into three runs real quick," Broadway said.

"He's learned how to not try to do more when the situation calls for just staying the course and trusting yourself," he added.

The Pirates' goal all along, Broadway said, was for Taillon to get to Double-A at some point this season. He will only make three starts for the Curve, then almost certainly will be back in Double-A for the beginning of the 2013 season.

Taillon throws 93-98 mph and has developed a two-seam fastball (like a sinker) to go along with his sharp curveball and changeup.

"Athletically he can do some things that most guys can't do, from the standpoint of his arm strength," Johnson said.

Taillon struck out 98 and walked 37 in 125 innings at Bradenton. He held the opposition to a .230 batting average, gave up 109 hits and had a 1.17 WHIP.

Cole is a little ahead of Taillon on the development track, but both could be mainstays in Pittsburgh as early as 2014.

"I'm excited," Johnson said of the chance to work with Cole and Taillon in the same rotation. "It's one of those rare opportunities that you get. I've been talking to several guys, and nobody can remember having these two type of guys at the same time."


1-2 punch

Jameson Taillon is scheduled to pitch at Peoples Natural Gas Field on Sunday, Aug. 26 against Richmond. Gerrit Cole is scheduled to start the next day at home against Akron. The two pitchers' final starts of the season then would be on the road.

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