Jameson Taillon was the second overall pick in 2010 by the Pittsburgh Pirates, which is significant in itself, but even more so when considering he was a right-handed pitcher just graduating from high school. This is meaningful because right-handed high school pitchers are rarely taken in the first round because they carry such a sizable amount of risk. However, Taillon impressed the Pirates so much so that they were willing to take this risk and Taillon has rewarded them with two impressive professional seasons. Although the first pitcher we scouted, Dylan Bundy, was also a right-handed high school pitcher, these two top prospects are certainly exceptions to the rule. In Taillon’s second professional season, 2012, he pitched to a 3.55 ERA over 142 innings in High Single-A and Double-A combined. These numbers are not overwhelming, but are impressive for a 20-year-old playing against older players. Taillon throws four pitches including a fastball, curveball, slider and changeup. His fastball reached mid-to-upper 90’s and his slider and curveball are low-to-mid 80’s. I had the opportunity to watch him this past weekend when he pitched for Canada versus the United States in the World Baseball Classic. Taillon looked very sharp in this performance as he pitched four innings allowing one earned run and striking out three. His control of his fastball as well as his slider and curveball was very impressive. His changeup looked pretty far below average, but he has three plus pitches and good control of all three. The 6’6” Taillon’s mechanics are pretty solid. He has a long and loose arm action in back; however, his arm does go behind his back, but it should not be a problem as long as he continues to get his arm in position by foot strike. Bringing his arm behind his back could become an issue late in games as his arm gets tired and begins to lag. He has a hip tilt as he begins to go towards home plate. This tilt gives him deception as he also angles his shoulders, and this incline gets him good downward plane towards home plate. I believe Taillon will begin the season at Triple-A and with a strong season could make the Major Leagues when rosters expand in September.
To kick off the BaseballStooges’ scouting reports segment of top minor league prospects, we take a look at Dylan Bundy. Bundy was the 4th overall pick of the 2011 amateur draft by the Baltimore Orioles and likely would have been taken higher except that Bundy was only coming out of high school and many teams view high school pitchers as incredibly risky. Since being drafted, Bundy has pitched across 4 levels in 2012, his first full professional season. In the minor leagues last season, between Single-A and Double-A, Bundy pitched to a 9-3 record with a 2.08 ERA over 103 2/3. Bundy is the consensus, top pitching prospect in all of baseball with a mid-to-upper 90’s fastball, a big curveball and decent change-up. His best pitch is probably his low-to-mid 90’s cutter; however, the Orioles have not allowed him to throw this pitch in order to develop his other pitches. With a solid four pitch repertoire that has three plus pitches, Bundy has a legitimate chance to pitch for the Orioles’ big league club this season. I watched him in the Futures Game last season and he looked like he was overthrowing a little as his control suffered, but the stuff was clearly there, with the mid 90’s heat and big curveball. Mechanically speaking, Bundy has very sound mechanics and uses his lower half very well to generate velocity. When he comes to his balance point, he has a slight hip turn, which creates some good deception. The one issue I find in his delivery is he cuts off his arm motion off in back where he does not have a full arm swing. This arm action has been found to lead many pitchers to Tommy John surgery. For example, Adam Wainwright has a similar arm action and recently underwent Tommy John surgery. One example is clearly not enough to prove a point, but ESPN’s Lindsay Berra wrote a nice article last March about this issue. Here is the link: http://espn.go.com/mlb/story/_/id/7712916/tommy-john-surgery-keeps-pitchers-game-address-underlying-biomechanical-flaw-espn-magazine.
I have no concerns about Bundy in the short-term or long-term as he seems prepared to pitch in the Majors this season and his mechanics are very sound. I believe he will begin the season in Triple-A, but should be in the Orioles’ rotation by the end of the season.