Know Your Opponents: Jameson Taillon

Jameson Taillon makes his Double-A debut today in Trenton.  That’s pretty darn cool.  The second overall pick of the 2010 draft was kind enough to chat with me in the visiting dugout before yesterday’s game.  My feature on him for The Trentonian can be read right here, but if you want to see the full interview with him, this is the place for you… 

Mike Ashmore: The Pirates took you with the second overall pick in the 2010 draft…take me back to that day, what was that experience like?

Jameson Taillon: “It was a whirlwind, that whole process.  Not just that day, but the months leading up to it, the whole process leading up to it.  It’s really cool to go through, but I much prefer being out here and playing baseball and going through all this.  Draft day, I had a bunch of friends and family at my house.  I was at my parents house.  It was a cool moment, not just for me but for everybody else involved, former coaches and all that.  It was really cool.”

Ashmore: Being second overall, there’s a pretty big bonus that comes with that ($6 million)…what is it like to have that amount of money thrown at you at that age?  I’ll never get to experience that…

Taillon: “I think it could be overwhelming to certain people, but I had a good agency, good financial advisors, good family and good support system.  To be honest, I don’t really see much of that money.  I just have enough out to live in the minor leagues, and the rest is invested.”

Ashmore: For someone who hasn’t seen you pitch yet, would you be so kind as to provide a self-scouting report?

Taillon: “I’ve got a four-seam and a two-seam fastball, that’s my go-to.  Power pitcher, live and die by the fastball.  I’ve got a hard curveball, pretty good break.  It’s a strikeout pitch.  As I move up in levels, and the older I get, I’m getting better at learning how to command that and drop it in for an 0-0 strike a little loopier and drop a hammer 0-2.  Then I’ve got a changeup that’s taken a huge step forward this year.  It used to be kind of non-existent, but now I would honestly maybe place it above my curveball.  It’s a pitch I have a lot more confidence in.  It’s a growing repertoire.  I like my pitches, but I’m starting to learn how to do different things with them and manipuilate them a bit different.”

Ashmore: Do you still throw the slider?

Taillon: “Not right now.  I may get one in the future, but for right now that’s been scrapped.”

Ashmore: Are you satisfied with the progress you’ve been making?

Taillon: “Not satisfied.  I’m pleased.  You know, I think I have come a long way.  It’s funny, I watch previous video of me pitching and think of previous games and think,’ Man, how did I get people out back then?’  So that means obviously I’ve come a long way to get to where I am today.  But there’s obviously a ton of work to be done, I haven’t even thrown a pitch in Double-A yet.  We’ll see what this gives me.” 

Ashmore: I’m sure you’ve brushed up on your Pirates history and the long list of failed pitching prospects they’ve had…does that kind of lineage put any added pressure on you?

Taillon: “Not really.  I’m kind of a different case.  I like to think of myself as different than anybody else.  I really like what they’re doing with me.  I like what they’re giving me and I like what they’re telling me.  I think I’m going to be different.”

Ashmore: How excited are you for (today)?

Taillon: “I’m excited.  Excited, but a little bit of nerves.  At the same time, I’ve got to go out there and approach it like any other game.  But at the same time, I can’t lie, I am excited.”

Ashmore: Maybe this sounds silly, but how important (was yesterday) for you in getting to see some of the Thunder hitters for the first time?

Taillon: “It’s big.  I like seeing what hitters do and I like seeing how they react to certain things.  We’re going out there and throwing a bullpen guy who’s starting who throws pretty similar velo to me.  That’ll be nice, because a lot of the time I’ll watch how hitters do off of pitchers, but it’s kind of a different case when you’ve got someone throwing 88-90 versus mid 90’s.  I’m excited to see what they’re going to do off of him and what their game plan is off of him.  The biggest thing will be going out there (tonight) and seeing what they give me and feeling what they give me at the time.”

Ashmore: Obviously you see the way things are going in this organization right now, especially at the big league level.  Is it an exciting time to be a part of it right now?

Taillon: “Yeah, absolutely.  There’s buzz going all up and down the organization, and it was a feeling last year going in to spring training that things were pretty different.  They weren’t able to quite finish it out that way, but they improved a lot.  Then this year in spring training, there was that feeling that they’d had some success and tasted it, and now they were ready to take that next step forward and finish the season strong and maybe make the playoffs and finish above .500 and so on and so on.  It’s been really fun to follow.

Ashmore: You and Gerrit Cole in the same rotation…is there anything nastier than that in the Eastern League?

Taillon: (Laughs) “I don’t think so.”

Ashmore: What’s it like, then, to have two top two picks in the same rotation?

Taillon: “It’s good for both of us, I think, with going through similar things.  I get to watch him pitch and he gets to watch me pitch, we get to know each other pretty well.  It’s nice to have him.”

Ashmore: You got to pitch in the Futures Game this year, what was that experience like?

Taillon: “It was once in a lifetime.  It was a lot of fun, they treated us incredibly there.  Kansas City was absolutely incredible, first class.  Going out there, I think we were all shocked.  We had a morning breakfast meeting with the teams, and George Brett, who was our manager, said they’d sold out Kauffman Stadium.  That kind of shocked us, because usually Futures Games might get 10,000 people.  They got freaking 42,000, which was awesome.  That was the first time I’ve ever pitched in an environment like that.  I’ve pitched in big league stadiums, but not to that level.  It was a lot of fun.”

Ashmore: Who stood out to you there?

Taillon: “Everybody, everyone stands out to you.  It was pretty eye opening to see just how good everybody was.  I’d say that Castellanos kid.  I played Team USA with him, but he’s come a long way with the bat.  Our whole pitching staff was incredible.  And from the World team, that (Jurickson) Profar kid, man he’s solid.  He can really play it.  He can hit it, he can pick it, he can run.  He can play.”

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

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