Curve's Taillon impresses again

Bucs prospect blanks Squirrels in second Double-A start

By Sam Dykstra / Special to | August 26, 2012 6:53 PM ET

Jameson Taillon's biggest concern with his transition to Double-A Altoona has not been the increased pressure of a new level or facing improved and more experienced hitters. It has been his accommodations.

"Honestly, I've been living out of a hotel for 10 straight days here," he said. "I started with the team on the road and then we came back here for just an eight-game homestand, not really long enough to get settled anywhere. So I decided to extend my stay here.

"I'm used to living in a hotel on the road. When I'm playing at home, it's just weird."

The way Taillon has pitched in his first two Double-A starts, he might want to consider making the move a little more permanent.

In his first outing at home, the Pirates' top prospect allowed one hit and struck out seven over six innings Sunday as the Curve blanked Richmond, 7-0, at Peoples Natural Gas Field.

Combined with his Eastern League debut on Tuesday, the 20-year-old right-hander has given up only five hits while striking out 13 over 11 innings for Altona. With numbers like that, he had a difficult time choosing which of the two starts was better.

"It was the same kind of thing when I pitched last time against Trenton," Taillon said. "All three pitches -- fastball, curveball and changeup -- really seemed to be on again. The fastball, I was able to establish on both the outside and inside part of the plate and mixed in the curveball as we went along. I just started throwing different stuff to keep them guessing."

Thanks to those preliminary fastballs, Taillon had a perfect game going through the fourth. He fell behind, 2-0, to Mark Minicozzi leading off the fifth before giving up his only hit -- a slow roller to third base.

"I put that one on me," the Texas native said. "I was coming out after a long inning by our offense and didn't really have it in that first at-bat. I missed with a few pitches and then gave him a good pitch to hit.

"We had a [6-0] lead though, so it wasn't something I was going to get angry or kick myself about. I thought I settled in pretty well after that."

In fact,'s No. 5 overall prospect retired the next six Flying Squirrels to end his outing after six frames. More impressively, his final five outs were strikeouts, most on his back-breaking curveball. He ended up throwing 48 of 69 pitches for strikes.

"I didn't even know I had a streak like that going, actually," Taillon said. "Once the game gets going, though, and I'm feeling comfortable, I'm definitely going for that punchout with two strikes."

Taillon -- the second overall pick in the 2010 Draft behind Bryce Harper -- is scheduled to take the mound again on Friday against Erie. That'll be his final start of his second season in the Pirates system.

Between Class A Advanced Bradenton and Altoona, he's 8-8 with a 3.51 ERA and 111 strikeouts over 136 innings. The 20-year-old right-hander sounded content with his sophomore campaign.

"It's been a pretty great year," Taillon said. "There have been plenty of learning parts and mostly I've made huge developments in my game, taken a lot of big steps, I feel like. It's been a big year, a fun year."

Hunter Strickland pitched the final three innings to earn his second save.

Pirates' No. 16 prospect Jarek Cunningham collected three RBIs, while Matt Curry smacked a two-run homer.

Sam Dykstra is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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