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Prospect Watch: Taillon Goes Seven Innings Again, Keller Dominates Again

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P2 Top 30

A look at how the current top 30 prospects did today.  Note that this list doesn’t include players currently in the majors. If a player is in the majors, he will be removed, everyone below him will be shifted up a spot, and a new player will be added to the bottom of the list. If a player is out for the season, he will be removed and everyone below him will move up a spot. Removing these guys doesn’t mean they have lost prospect status. It is just an attempt to get 30 active prospects on the list. Rankings are from the 2016 prospect guide, and links on each name go to their Pirates Prospects player pages.

We’re working on a solution for the PHP stat codes not working in the app.

1. Tyler Glasnow, RHP, Indianapolis -[insert_php]
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2. Austin Meadows, CF, Altoona – [insert_php]
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3. Josh Bell, 1B, Indianapolis – [insert_php]
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4. Jameson Taillon, RHP, Indianapolis – [insert_php]
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5. Alen Hanson, 2B, Indianapolis – [insert_php]
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6. Harold Ramirez, OF, Altoona -[insert_php]
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7. Reese McGuire, C, Altoona -[insert_php]
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8. Elias Diaz, C, Pirates – Disabled List.

9. Nick Kingham, RHP, Indianapolis – Disabled List

10. Ke’Bryan Hayes, 3B, West Virginia -[insert_php]
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11. Kevin Newman, SS, Bradenton -[insert_php]
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12. Yeudy Garcia, RHP, Bradenton -[insert_php]
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13. Steven Brault, LHP, Indianapolis -[insert_php]
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 14. Stephen Tarpley, LHP, Bradenton – Extended Spring Training

15.Cole Tucker, SS, West Virginia – [insert_php]
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16. Chad Kuhl, RHP, Indianapolis – [insert_php]
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17. Max Moroff, 2B, Indianapolis -[insert_php]
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18. Mitch Keller, RHP, West Virginia -[insert_php]
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19. Clay Holmes, RHP, Altoona – [insert_php]
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20. Willy Garcia, OF, Indianapolis -[insert_php]
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21. Brandon Waddell, LHP, Altoona – [insert_php]
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22. Tyler Eppler, RHP, Altoona -[insert_php]
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23. Barrett Barnes, OF, Altoona -[insert_php]
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24. Trevor Williams, RHP, Indianapolis – Disabled List

25. Gage Hinsz, RHP,  – Extended Spring Training

26. Adrian Valerio, SS, – Extended Spring Training

27. Adam Frazier, INF/OF, Indianapolis -[insert_php]
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28. Kevin Kramer, 2B, Bradenton -[insert_php]
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29. Jordan Luplow, OF/3B, Bradenton – [insert_php]
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30. JT Brubaker, RHP, West Virginia -[insert_php]
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P2 Top Performers

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Prospect-Watch-Indy

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Jameson Taillon made his sixth start of the season on Monday night. He came into the game with the second best ERA in the International League at 1.19, and his 0.76 WHIP had him first in the league. He threw seven innings in each of his last two starts and had not allowed more than two runs in any start.

The first inning started with Taillon facing prospect Trea Turner, who grounded weakly on the first pitch to Gift Ngoepe, who booted the ball.  The next batter grounded out to second base on the second pitch, moving Turner to second base. Taillon threw over to first base four times before his first pitch to the second hitter, then tried a pick-off at second base. The third batter lined out to second base, which ended up being a double play with Turner too far off the bag. Taillon ended up throwing just six pitches in the inning, all fastballs, a few up in the zone. He almost threw as many pick-off throws as pitches.

In the second, he got a two-pitch out on a grounder to first base, with Taillon covering. The next batter did the same exact thing. Taillon then broke off a couple nice curves to get two strikes, before allowing his first home run of the season off the bat of Brian Goodwin. He tried to throw a third straight curve and got the pitch up too much. The next batter flew out to left field on another curve that was up in the zone. So two really nice curves were followed by two that didn’t do what they were supposed to do. Taillon only threw 13 pitches in the inning and 11 went for strikes.

Taillon began the third with a strikeout on a 95 MPH fastball on a 3-2 count. The bad part is that he hung two more curves. He then struck out the pitcher on three pitches, getting him to chase a nice curve. Taillon struck out the side, getting Trea Turner swinging on a high fastball for the third out. He also got him to swing and miss on a change-up, and he threw a really nice curve that buckled Turner’s knees. It looked like a strike, but Taillon didn’t get the call. So after four below average curves, he finished the second with two really nice ones. The third took 14 pitches, nine for strikes.

In the fourth, Taillon allowed a line drive single on a 3-2 pitch. He just missed on a couple pitches, including a nice curve. He went 3-2 on the next hitter too, before getting a strikeout swinging on an 88 MPH change-up. He went full count before getting a couple fouls, followed by a walk. Taillon used all three pitches this plate appearance, hitting 86 with the change and 94 with the fastball. He was up in the zone this entire inning and working hard. The next batter drove a low fastball over the middle of the plate to center field for a double that brought home a run, but also got an out at home plate. Taillon got another grounder to first base for the final out.

This was his worst inning all season, with some wildness, his fastball up in the zone, the pitch count and a couple well hit balls. He threw 24 pitches total, 14 for strikes.

After a quick top of the fifth, Taillon came out for the bottom of the inning and allowed a double right down the third base line. Wasn’t hit too hard, just well placed. A grounder to first base on a 3-2 pitch moved the runner up. The pitcher then hit a fly ball to the warning track in right field for a sacrifice fly. Taillon went 3-2 again before getting Trea Turner to strike out looking on a curve that caught the outside corner. He was at 76 pitches at this point, 49 for strikes.

The sixth started with a ground out to second base on a hanging curve. The first three pitches of the at-bat were nice, with two fastballs down in the zone and a nice curve. The next batter flew out to left field, followed by a grounder to second base, which was fielded by Gift Ngoepe playing over on the shift. This was a quick ten-pitch inning, with just that one mistake that didn’t hurt him.

Surprisingly, Taillon came out for the seventh with 85 pitches already to his credit. His previous high was 89 twice. The first batter popped out to shortstop on his 90th pitch. The next batter flew out to center field. That was followed by Cole Figueroa botching an easy grounder (this was changed to a hit for some reason after the game, but it was a routine grounder right to him). Taillon finished the inning with a strikeout swinging on a nice curve, his 99th pitch of the night.

His final line included three runs on four hits (five after Figueroa’s error was changed for no reason) and a walk, with six strikeouts. He threw 65 pitches for strikes. He really finished strong, especially after tough fourth and fifth innings. He had a nice 9:3 GO/AO ratio. Taillon didn’t have the best fastball command and it hurt him this game. The curve was also off and on, while the infrequent change-ups looked good. His change has been good in all six starts, making it a strong third offering that he probably doesn’t use enough. This was his worst outing on paper (which isn’t bad considering the line), and also looked like the worst stuff he has had, mostly due to the command issues with the fastball and curve. This was really the first game where he didn’t have either his fastball or curve looking like a plus pitch for most of the game. On the plus side, his velocity was good all game and it’s nice to see the strong finish while reaching a new high for a pitch count.

Indianapolis lost 3-2 in this game with Taillon taking his first loss since September 1, 2013. The Indians scored both of their runs on solo homers, with a long homer from Cole Figueroa in the fourth and Alen Hanson turned on a ball in the eighth. It was the second homer of the season for Hanson. Josh Bell also added a double, plus hit the ball hard in another at-bat that resulted in an out. The only other hits were singles from Adam Frazier and Taillon. Rob Scahill struck out two in a scoreless eighth inning. – John Dreker

Thoughts From Ryan Palencer – Jameson Taillon battled through seven innings with far from his strongest stuff. The command was far from his typical pinpoint this season, and the stats showed it as 34 of his 99 pitches were balls. He also hung several curves, which has been one of his strongest pitches so far. The most notable hanger was a second inning home run.

After the home run, Taillon bounced back to strike out the side in the third on by far his best inning. He struck out the pitcher on a curve and used a low fastball on the first, and a high fastball on the third. According to the broadcast, Taillon was at 94 MPH on the stadium gun. He also looked to control the running game by throwing over to bases a lot. With the long frame, Taillon has struggled at times with speed to the plate, so this emphasis is not a shock.

Taillon used a nasty change for strikeout in the fourth, but got beat on a low fastball for an RBI double that rolled to the wall. He was fortunate that a solid relay saved another run on the play. A hard knock down left field line on the first pitch for a double started the fifth. A long sac fly on elevated fastball by the pitcher cost Taillon another run in the inning. Taillon ended his outing on likely his strongest curve of the night for a strikeout, but the pitch lacked it’s typical luster and Taillon paid for it at times.

Prospect-Watch-Altoona-Curve

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ALTOONA – David Whitehead was no good again for the Curve, and his days as a starter for the Curve may soon be coming to an end. Curve manager Joey Cora has come out saying that Frank Duncan, who started Sunday for the Curve, is deserving of a spot in the starting rotation, and Whitehead seems to be the easy choice to supplant. Decisions will be made within the next day or so on how the rotation will play out, but Cora said that Duncan has earned a spot. Whitehead has thrown 235 balls and 244 strikes this season, and he has not shown any sign of being able to control the zone.

Whitehead missed all around the strike zone tonight, as he went 2+ innings while throwing 46 balls and 26 strikes. He walked seven while allowed ten batters to reach base without being able to record an out after two innings pitched. After tonight’s outing, Whitehead leads the Eastern League in walks with 29. Manager Joey Cora simply said that Whitehead “just imploded and didn’t give us a chance”.

Pitching Coach Justin Meccage noted that Whitehead has been working on pitching with a different angle and being more consistent with his pitches; however, he specifically said that their are some mentality issues that Whitehead needs to work on to help his confidence.

In the first inning, Whitehead got help from Reese McGuire, as he threw out both runners who reached base as they tried to steal second. Both throws were right on the the money with the second being thrown from his knees.

The silver lining for the Curve tonight would be the relief pitching. Jhondaniel Medina came in after Whitehead loaded the bases in the third inning with no outs, and he recorded three straight outs even though two runs came across credited to Whitehead (sacrifice fly and groundout). Medina faced one over the minimum in his three innings of work, and he has now gone 10.2 innings without allowing an earned run. Jared Lakind came in after Medina and threw two scoreless innings without allowing a runner, and he’s now gone 6.1 IP without allowing an earned run. Montana DuRapau followed with two more scoreless innings, even though things got a little shaky in the ninth when he loaded the bases before recording a strikeout for the last out of the inning. Combined, the three relievers went seven scoreless innings and only allowed three hits.

Meccage said that all three relievers attacked the strike zone extremely well tonight and did a great job giving multiple innings tonight. Meccage also noted that they like to give their high leverage relievers some looks at multiple innings, because they will most likely have to do that at some point in their careers if they continue to move forward as professionals.

Medina has been able to throw his slider more consistently across the plate for an out pitch. DuRapau, on the other hand, had been asked to mix in more four-seam fastballs with his usual cutter to give batters some different looks.

Offensively, the Curve just couldn’t get the ball rolling all at once to get the runs back that Whitehead gave up. They started the game strongly, with Austin Meadows and Erich Weiss both doubling to the wall (Meadows on the bounce and Weiss on the fly) to score the game’s first runs, but the Curve couldn’t manage to get any more runs until the sixth. In that sixth inning, Jose Osuna and Edwin Espinal both doubled to the gaps to get one run back.

Erich Weiss has eight multi-hit games for the Curve, including two more hits tonight. He leads Altoona with a .295 average. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Meadows went 1-for-5 tonight after his lead-off double, and he has only one multi-hit game since returning to the Curve lineup. His batting average has fallen to .174, and he simply does not look comfortable at the plate.

Going unnoticed would be a Jose Osuna 11-pitch at-bat in the first inning that ended in a strikeout; however, he has worked counts very well and put together some very good at-bats. He coupled that with his sixth inning lead-off double that was hit extremely hard to the gap. – Sean McCool

Prospect-Watch-Bradenton

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Bradenton attempted a comeback with the game seemingly out of hand on Monday, but they fell short in the 10-6 loss. The Marauders were dominated for 6.1 innings by Stephen Gonsalves, who is the ninth ranked prospect in a deep Twins system. Bradenton starter Alex McRae allowed four runs in four innings and Jose Regalado followed him with one of the worst outings you’ll see. He faced ten batters, hit two, walked one and gave up five runs on five hits. A tenth run scored in the top of the sixth off Tate Scioneaux and the Marauders trailed 10-0 going into the bottom of the eight inning.

In the eighth inning, Michael Suchy and Kevin Newman hit back-to-back doubles for the first run. After a walk to Kevin Kramer and an out, Jerrick Suiter loaded the bases with a single. After a strikeout of Taylor Gushue, Logan Hill doubled home three runs.

In the ninth, the first three batters reached, two by error. A Jordan Luplow sacrifice fly made in 10-5 and a wild pitch scored Suchy with the sixth run. Suiter grounded out to end the game.

Before the eighth inning, the only Bradenton hits were a single from Luplow and an infield hit by Suiter. Newman had a string of four consecutive two-hit games broken, but he had a double (his fifth) and walked to reach base twice. Gushue is 5-for-38 in his last ten games. He had a .901 OPS prior to this stretch, and it has dropped to .678 since then.

Prospect-Watch-WV-Power

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Mitch Keller had a dominating outing out Monday night, which should come as no surprise the way he has been pitching this season. He came into the game with an 0.96 ERA and an 0.61 WHIP, with 34 strikeouts in 28 innings. He improved on all three of those numbers. Keller finished with six shutout innings, allowing two hits (one on a bunt), one walk and he struck out eight batters. He threw 82 pitches, 54 for strikes. The only easy to overlook issue in this game was a 4:6 GO/AO ratio. Keller has allowed two hits or less in half of his six starts. He retired eight in a row to start the game, with a streak of five straight strikeouts in the middle.

With Cole Tucker back, the Power have an exciting top of the lineup. Tito Polo leads off, followed by Tucker and Ke’Bryan Hayes. All three of them hit doubles in this game. Polo hit his off the base of the wall, then for good measure, he stole third base, his ninth swipe of the season. It was the sixth double for Hayes, fifth for Polo and first for Tucker, who is 2-for-7 in two games. Hayes drove in his 19th run of the season. Ty Moore also added his fourth double. Carlos Munoz drove in two runs.

Lefty reliever Daniel Zamora got the save with three shutout innings. He allowed one hit, and lowered his ERA to 0.98 through 18.1 innings.

CHARLESTON, WV – Once again, the Power’s top pitching prospect impressed. Mitch Keller blew away eight Hagerstown batters with his 93-94 mph fastball. Keller used his curveball sparingly and, due to a tight strike zone, ineffectively. He maintained strict control of both pitches, though, and his two hits came on a perfect bunt and a sharp grounder up the middle. His sole walk of the night started with an 0-2 count, but he got behind after trying to get the batter to chase two curveballs low in the zone. He left after six innings, though he certainly had the stuff to come out in the seventh, with a 4-0 lead.

Keller’s replacement also displayed signs of dominance. Daniel Zamora, a lefty reliever, worked his magnificent slider to perfection, allowing a bloop single that dropped in between Ke’Bryan Hayes and Casey Hughston. Zamora struggled with control, particularly with his fastball, but he never worked himself into any jams.

Cole Tucker showed his range both at the plate and in the field. In the first, he set up a score with a sacrifice bunt, which he almost legged out for a hit. In his second and third at-bats, he flashed glimpses of power with a long flyout to center and a double he took to the opposite field for a double. At shortstop, he made a few routine plays as well as a nice diving stop to prevent a hit.

Tito Polo has now reached in 22 of his 23 games with a single, a double, a run scored, and a stolen base. Polo has formidable speed and hustles every play. He’s a true baseball nut, playing year-round, and as one of the few players who have remained from last year’s Power squad, he could inspire those qualities in some of the younger players. Despite his success, it doesn’t look like he’ll be moving up in the near future. – Abigail Miskowiec

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John Dreker
John Dreker
John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball. When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.

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