We'll get to see a lot of Jameson Taillon pitching for the Curve next season, so as he prepares to make his home debut tonight, let's get one thing out of the way.
His last name is pronounced Tie-own. Not Tie-on.
"It doesn't rub me wrong either way," said Taillon, who's used to having his name mispronounced. "Both of those are a lot better than some of the ways I'll get."
Taillon was promoted to the Curve this past week from high-A Bradenton and made his debut with five shutout innings Tuesday at Trenton. The 20-year-old right-hander, who was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2010 draft, is now one of two tremendous pitching prospects in the Curve's starting rotation, joining 2011 No. 1 overall pick Gerrit Cole.
The next two days will be very memorable for Altoona fans, with Taillon starting tonight and Cole starting game one of Monday's doubleheader against Akron. It's not just $14.5 million worth of pitching on display ($8 million signing bonus for Cole, $6.5 million for Taillon), it's also a chance to watch two pitchers who could be in the Pirates' starting rotation for the better part of the next decade.
"It should be very exciting for the people around here," Curve manager P.J. Forbes said. "This is obviously the two No. 1s and what we talk about and what we want in the major leagues as part of our future.
"I'm excited. I was excited in Trenton when they both started there, and I'm excited for their last couple starts here because it is the future of our pitching staff."
Taillon has been in Double-A for less than a week and already has experienced a different feeling compared to the lower minors.
"It's been a blast," he said. "It's a little different up here. It's a different vibe going up another level and you're one step closer to the big leagues, and you can definitely feel it up here with the attitude."
The only disappointing thing about Taillon being with the Curve is that it comes so late in the season that tonight's start will be the only one he makes at PNG Field. His final start will be Friday at Erie, then he'll be expected to begin next season back in Altoona.
"I'm really glad I got the chance to come up, even if it's just for a couple starts, just to get my feet wet, kind of know what to expect for next year," Taillon said.
A couple of months ago it appeared Taillon might not make it up to Double-A this season as he went through some major struggles at Bradenton. He had a rough six-game stretch that ended with him allowing eight runs in 4 2/3 innings June 13, raising his ERA to 4.52.
"I definitely learned some lessons," he said of the struggles, "not only about just pitching but about myself and how bad I do want to succeed and how bad I want it. Because I hit a point where I could have just folded and tossed it in for the year because that's how tough that stretch was.
"But I decided to go back to work and go to the drawing board and figure out what was wrong, and I came out from it even stronger than I was before."
The Pirates like to see their minor league prospects face failure on their way up so they can learn how to overcome it. Taillon understands that and even said he's "definitely happy for that happening."
"Without those four or five starts that I struggled in, maybe two years from now I'm in the big leagues and I go through making the same mistakes I was making down there but in the big leagues and I never learned my lesson," he said. "So I'm definitely glad I got to go through that down in high-A than in the big leagues."
Taillon finished 6-8 with a 3.82 ERA in 23 starts for Bradenton. One key was that he never got down on himself, and he said the biggest lesson he learned was "less is more."
He was trying to throw as hard as he could when he got into trouble, and it backfired as his ball flattened out and was easier to hit.
"I just learned to kind of trust myself and be calm and make my pitch when I had to," Taillon said. "That's what it comes down to is just making the pitches when you need to."