A much-anticipated meeting between last year's top two Draft picks figured to make for a memorable night in West Virginia -- until heavy rain reached Appalachian Power Park.
Jameson Taillon, the No. 2 overall pick in 2010, made his professional debut for the Class A West Virginia Power, taking on No. 1 pick Bryce Harper and the Hagerstown Suns.
If he felt any nerves facing the 18-year-old phenom with war paint-like eye black in his first Minor League inning, Taillon did not admit it.
"My game plan was to attack him, throw him something down in the zone, get him to ground out, break a bat," Taillon said. "I didn't attack the the zone like I wanted to, but my plan was to go right at him. He's a great hitter, but he's just another hitter in their lineup."
Harper drew a one-out walk and was stranded at third base when Taillon got Mills Rogers to hit into a bases-loaded double play.
"I was amped up, to be honest, probably a little over-amped and I need to control it," Taillon said of the opening frame. "It was good to get it out of the way."
Blake Kelso welcomed the 19-year-old Texan to the Minors with a leadoff single and, after Adrian Sanchez bounced to shortstop, Harper stepped in. He was fresh off hitting his third homer in four games.
"I felt if I executed my pitches, I felt like I had a pretty good plan, but he's got a good eye," Taillon said. "He was waiting for his pitch and I didn't give it to him."
Taillon worked two innings and allowed a run on three hits and two walks before umpires Roberto Ortiz and Jose Esteras suspended the game.
"There's definitely some weight lifted off the shoulder," said Taillon, who faced 10 batters, inducing three fly balls and one groundout. "It was definitely great to get it out of the way.
"I threw two innings, which I battled through. I didn't have my best stuff, but I battled through it and we were up, 7-1, when the rain came through."
Taillon also battled the weather, as did Suns counterpart Christopher McKenzie. The Nationals' 13th-round pick last year was charged with seven runs -- six earned -- on four hits and four walks in 1 1/3 innings.
"Both teams had to deal with it, I'm not making excuses," Taillon said. "It was interesting conditions. I faced a little adversity for the first time, and that's all right with me. It wasn't ideal, that second inning was real wet. I had a better second inning than I did my first. It was tough to get down the mound just because it was so slushy."
Pirates director of player development Kyle Stark attended the game and was impressed by Taillon's toughness.
"He battled through some poor weather conditions and grinded through it," Stark told MLB.com. "He made a couple pitches when he needed to. Ultimately, he got through it. He's also 19 and has a lot of development ahead of him."
Taillon worked around two baserunners in the second, retiring Blake Kelso on a fly ball to left field to end the inning. But it was the double play in the first that was the biggest pitch for the 6-foot-6 right-hander.
"Less is more," he said. "I took a step back on that [last] pitch, focused just on throwing a pitch right where I wanted it, inside. Got it in right on his hands and with the stuff I have, it's tough to turn around 94, 95, 96 [mph]. So if I can get it in there, downhill, with my stuff, my height, I can get a few ground balls."
Taillon, MLB.com's No. 18 prospect entering the season, said he felt good in his first start since leaving The Woodlands High School, where he was a 2010 First-Team High School All-American.
"It's not an outing I'm going to lose sleep over," he said. "Arm felt great, delivery felt good toward the end there, but I get to go back out there Monday, do the routine over again."
The suspended game will be completed Thursday as part of a doubleheader.
For Harper, the largely uneventful game came one night after he exchanged words with an opposing pitcher after taking a called third strike. He had homered off Tyler Waldron earlier in Tuesday's game before sparking a bench-clearing incident in which no punches were thrown.
The Charleston Gazette reported that Harper had to be restrained by a teammate.
"That conversation should probably stay between the team and stay on the field," Waldron told the newspaper.