Jonathan Mayo from MLB Pipeline wrote an article on Thursday morning looking at the top prospects set to break out in 2018. He picked 12 players total and went with 23-year-old lefty Taylor Hearn from the Pittsburgh Pirates as one of six pitchers in the group.
Hearn pitched for Bradenton this season and had his moments where he looked unhittable, while picking up a lot of strikeouts and getting his share of grounders. At other times, he ran his pitch count up to get himself in trouble and then served up big hits with runners on base. He finished with 4.12 ERA in 87.1 innings, but allowed just 65 hits and struck out 106 batters.
The stuff is there for Hearn to develop into a top 100 prospect in the game this season. His fastball sits mid-90s and has hit 100 MPH. He worked on his slider in the Arizona Fall League with excellent results early with the pitch.
He considers his changeup to be his best pitch and is comfortable throwing it in any situation. In fact, Hearn’s changeup was so good that he stop throwing the pitch to work on his fastball command and his slider, leading some to believe the pitch wasn’t any good because he stopped using it. Back in the AFL (see link above) Pirates’ Director of Minor League Operations Larry Broadway called the changeup a very good pitch with separation, while Bradenton pitching coach Matt Ford said in late July that the changeup was “absolutely filthy”. Last year, West Virginia manager Brian Esposito called it a really good pitch after seeing him a few times, so those old scouting reports were never right and the pitch remains strong.
Hearn ranked in our top ten this off-season due to his upside and his potential, rather than his actual results. We also believe that he has the ability to be a breakout prospect this season due to his three-pitch mix, and the big frame to put in plenty of innings as a starting pitcher. As the MLB Pipeline article mentions, his command might keep him from reaching his upside, but he would still have a chance to be a power reliever if that happens. He should get the chance to prove himself this season in the Altoona rotation.
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.
I am of the opinion if he fails to get his fastball under control this year. Fast track him to the Bullpen where he can actually make an impact. I am not giving up on Tyler yet but, strong relievers are becoming a hot commodity in today’s game. Glasnow and Hearn in the Pen maybe the way to go for a team that needs the assistance. Plus, Hearn’s arm is healed together with duct tape, some PVC pipe and a few screws; longevity also has to be a concern with him throwing a starters workload of pitches. Then when we try to trade them for a bunch of top prospects we will be scolded by larger teams for asking too much in return.
As soon as the Melancon trade went through I started looking up Hearn (I already knew about Rivero and thought he’d be great but not this good, this quickly) and instantly fell in love with his potential as most if not all scouting reports have talked up his immense upside. Really hope he takes a big step forward with his control this year and stays healthy. He’s very fun to dream on as Keller’s sidekick in the future rotation.
Hearn is also a reminder of why we shouldn’t get too caught up in rankings once you get past the very top. Hearn was ranked 28th in the Nats system but we’re probably happier with him than we’d be with anyone that had been ranked outside of their top 3-4.
I think part of his low ranking was his lack of results plus his injury history prior to the trade. Now that you can see the fastball more consistently and it’s hitting high-90s, the slider is better developed, and as Larry Broadway said in the article linked above “the changeup is a very good pitch”, or as pitching coach Matt Ford said back in July “He’s got the changeup, which is absolutely filthy.” you have three pitches with potential. He’s had some success at a higher level as well, so I think he’s a better prospect than what the Pirates initially received.
Any guess as to why he hasn’t thrown this “very good”, “filthy” changeup in front of any outside evaluators?
Is this a new strategy the Pirates are deploying?
To give you more picky crap to make stupid comments about.
Working on getting outs with FB command and the slider?
Fangraphs just came out with the Pirate rankings, They do not compare well to the Brewers or Cardinals.
We posted an article about an hour ago on the Fangraphs list
Good stuff but the narrative with the changeup needs to stop. Because Hearn feels comfortable with his changeup and likes it doesn’t make it a plus pitch… yet.
Yeah this is just downright unprofessional at this point.
At what point will Pirates Prospects scout Taylor Hearn’s *actual* changeup instead of asking him what he thought about it in high school?
What’s unprofessional is saying that the evaluation of his change up is based on what Hearn thinks of it. Three Pirates coaches/managers – who have seen it up close – raved about it. Maybe they’re wrong – but the evaluation comes from them, not from Hearn.
How do you evaluate a pitch if it isn’t used?
These scouting reports didn’t, which is why they wrongly assumed the reason he wasn’t using the pitch. The Nationals felt comfortable enough with the pitch that they had him stop throwing it to work on fastball command. Not sure how people ranking him took that as the pitch being bad. I don’t know of any main pitch that a team took away because it needed a lot of work. I’m pretty sure that would be the opposite way to learn a pitch.
When Hearn got to the Pirates, they wanted to see the pitch and now he uses it, which is why you see all of the superlatives in the articles linked. Matt Ford has been his pitching coach for two years, so he should know what he’s talking about, and he didn’t talk that way about any of his other pitches. Hearn admitted that his slider needed a lot of work last year, so I’m not sure why that is accepted, but him saying a changeup he threw since he was eight years old can’t be a good pitch.
We have four people who have seen the pitch often and know baseball, saying that it’s a strong pitch, but some people would rather believe a scouting report based on not seeing the pitch and an assumption that it’s a bad thing to work on his other pitches. There is no reason to believe it’s below average. Zero.