The Pittsburgh Pirates drafted right-handed pitcher Jacob Taylor in the fourth round this year, and the tall pitcher looked promising. He was drafted out of the JuCo ranks, and it was reported that he could work 94-97 MPH with his fastball, while lacking command of the pitch and lacking secondary stuff. The reports and upside were good enough for us to have him ranked in our top 30, and MLB.com had him as their #20 prospect in today’s update. The Pirates liked him enough to sign him to an over-slot deal, paying him $500,000, which was about $60,000 over slot.
Unfortunately, Taylor has undergone Tommy John surgery. I learned at the end of last week that he was going for surgery, and Sean McCool was able to confirm it today with Larry Broadway, who is currently in Altoona. Taylor only made one start in the GCL, throwing two shutout innings while walking three and striking out two.
The timing of this injury is tough, as it basically means that Taylor won’t show up in a box score until 2017. He had a bit of an advantage in that he was 20 years old this year, having turned 20 on July 5th. He will return in his age 21/22 season, which isn’t too old, but he’s still going to need to work on his command and secondary stuff in the lower levels, so this could set him back.
The Pirates could work on his command during the rehab process, but he would still need to improve the secondary stuff. There’s also the fact that he’d be Rule 5 eligible in 2018, and this injury will cause him to miss his first year and a half. That’s not an issue now, but in the long-term if Taylor does work out, the Pirates will have to rush his development at some point.
Overall, this is a tough break for a guy who showed a lot of promise out of the draft.