On April 13, Pittsburgh's top prospect Jameson Taillon faced Class A Advanced Fort Myers in Bradenton and limited the Miracle lineup to one run on three hits while striking out six over five innings.
Changing the setting to Fort Myers on Thursday didn't alter things much for the right-hander. This time, Taillon scattered five hits over five one-run frames while again fanning six and without a walk as the Marauders came out on top in 10 innings, 2-1.
The No. 2 overall pick in the 2010 Draft dropped his ERA to 2.63 after three starts and has struck out 18 while walking just two in 13 2/3 innings.
"[Last week] I threw a game that was pretty similar to this, but I felt more efficient tonight, felt a little better," said MLB.com's No. 8 overall prospect. "I had a pretty good understanding of what I wanted to do. I knew they'd try to jump on the fastball, so I showed them all my pitches early on to keep them off balance, made a couple of adjustments on the run."
One of the keys to working through the Miracle lineup for a second consecutive start was using his changeup more frequently, Taillon said. He's been working on it, and he said he used it Thursday about 16 or 17 times out of 74 total pitches.
"I threw about double as many changeups as I'd normally throw," he said. "It was working for me, I was able to get it over for a strike. I thought it was helping my fastball play a little better."
In moving from the Class A South Atlantic League, where he recorded a 3.98 ERA over 92 2/3 innings last season with 97 strikeouts, to the Florida State League, Taillon said one thing he's had to adjust to is the increased patience he's seen in hitters.
"I've been told that at every level you go up hitters will be more patient, they'll have a better idea of what pitch they want and they do a pretty good job of laying off other stuff," he said. "I'm paying attention to each hitter and what they like, pitching to my strengths. I've gotten into some three-ball counts even after making some pretty good pitches. Last year, the hitters kind of just hacked at the first pitch, sitting dead red on the fastball."
While the strikeout totals of the Woodlands (Texas) High School product are usually the most attention-grabbing, Taillon said he takes more pride in limiting walks. After not issuing any across the two starts against Fort Myers, he said he is content with how he is progressing with that particular goal.
"I made some pitches when I had to. One goal of mine is always getting quick outs, quick innings. I want to go as deep as I can. As long as I can go five or six innings and help the bullpen, I'm pleased," he said.
Taillon was backed first by reliever Eliecer Navarro, who threw three scoreless innings, fanning three and allowing one hit. Porfirio Lopez then worked 1 1/3 one-hit innings and Jason Townsend recorded two outs in the bottom of the 10th for the save.
Bradenton went ahead in the 10th when left fielder Dan Grovatt singled in pinch-runner Benji Gonzalez from second.