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After a Long Wait, Jameson Taillon is Ready to Make His MLB Debut

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PITTSBURGH – On August 19, 2010, Jameson Taillon made his first visit to PNC Park’s press room, where he was introduced as the Pirates’ recently signed top draft pick.

“Since I was 5 or 6 years old, this has been a dream to me,” he said at the time. “The signing bonus and the signing is great, but my goal is to be back here at PNC Park in a few years and help this team.”

When Taillon said “a few years,” he didn’t necessarily think it would be nearly six, but a pair of season-ending injuries conspired to lengthen the road that the 2010 No. 2 overall selection took to the Major Leagues. Two surgeries later, Taillon is poised to make his MLB debut against the New York Mets on Wednesday.

“It’s a little sweeter,” he said Tuesday evening. “I think this is the same room I was in when I got drafted in 2010 and as a young 18-year-old, I don’t think this is the path I saw myself taking. But it’s my journey, it’s my path, it’s what I’ve had dealt for me.”

That path included Tommy John surgery in April of 2014, which put him out for all of the 2014 season, and the first half of the 2015 season. He returned last year and pitched in some extended Spring Training games, but right before he was about to make an official rehab start and progress to an MLB debut last year, he went down with a hernia injury and had season ending surgery.

Many players would be discouraged by the lack of progress. Taillon himself said he wanted to be in the majors by the time he was 21 — a date now three years in the past. Instead, he took what could have been a negative and chose to see it an opportunity to showcase one of his underrated strengths. Unable to show off his high-90s fastball or his pinpoint command, Taillon chose to prove his worth via work ethic.

“I think the two years away, putting work in and getting better those two years [helped me succeed],” he said. “Mentally, I came back strong. I wasn’t too concerned about my results. I was just looking forward to getting out there, competing and playing. … I feel like I’m in a position to say I’ve put in the work for it. I wasn’t just given this. I went through the system, was developed by the Pirates, put in the work and had some injuries to overcome.”

That work has allowed him to have immediate success in Triple-A this season. His command has been exceptional, having allowed only six walks over 12 starts and he’s been getting results as well, as his 2.04 ERA currently sits tied for fourth in the International League. A big reason for his success is a much improved fastball, which has good downward movement, and strong command. He’s also shown improvements with his changeup, and good command of his plus curveball. He hopes that he can continue pitching the same way in Pittsburgh.

“I’ve heard from a lot of people that it’s the same game,” he said. “[I’m] just going out there and pitch my game and keep doing what I’ve been doing.”

We will have more on Taillon’s debut tomorrow morning, along with full coverage of the debut tomorrow night.

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