2010 draft preview: Scouting pitcher Jameson Taillon

Body Type

He has a big, physical frame with some projection remaining

Stuff

Fastball—Tremendous velocity and life…can hit the upper 90s though he’s more consistently in the 92-96 mph range…excellent carry through the strike zone and it picks up an extra gear as it approaches home plate. The fastball appears to rise on hitters.

Taillon sometimes has trouble keeping his fastball down in the zone and he’ll get hit when he leaves the ball over the heart of the plate. The pitch will also straighten out on him at times, leaving it hittable.

Curveball—Good tilt and snap on a two-plane break…comes in on the same plane as his fastball. The trajectory of the pitch is a little higher when he throws his curveball for strikes, but it still looks like a high fastball out of his hand. Taillon throws from a three-quarters arm slot, but will occasionally raise his arm slot slightly when throwing the curveball.

The pitch could use a little more consistency, but it’s still a plus pitch at its best and has the potential to be a bit better. Below you can see an example of Taillon’s curveball on the left (84 mph) and his fastball on the right (94 mph):

imageimage
*Credit to MLB Advanced Media

Slider—Another potential plus offering, the pitch is a little behind his curveball. The pitch breaks hard left though its depth is questionable and there are times you can spot the break soon after release before it really makes that sharp turn left. There is an almost Frisbee-like movement to the pitch.

image
*Credit to TxBaseballInstitute

Change-up—Behind his other offerings, as with most pitchers Taillon’s age, but it has the makings of an above-average offering. He maintains his arm speed well and is clocked 8-12 mph slower than his fastball with solid fading action.

Scouting Report

Jameson Taillon is a potential top-five pick in the 2010 draft and is regarded by many as the top overall pitcher in this year’s draft class. He’s committed to Rice, but obviously he’s considered signable or he wouldn’t be considered a top-five pick.

At this point, Taillon’s command is behind his control. He’s generally able to throw strikes, but he doesn’t always hit the glove. At the high school level, he’s able to simply overpower hitters, but he’s going to have to do a better job of commanding his stuff against more advanced hitters.

Now, that’s not to say he can’t command his stuff. He can, but he must do it more consistently. Taillon can throw his ball to both sides of the plate, but he has better command to his arm side.

Part of Taillon’s command issues can be traced to a tendency of rushing through his delivery.

Mechanically, Taillon starts out very slow as he lifts his front leg and then explodes from there. He has around an average tempo—the number of frames from which the knee reaches its uppermost point to release—of 24 or 25 frames, but he looks quicker than that. More importantly, there are no hitches in his arm action: It’s very smooth looking. Any unnecessary pause in one’s arm action or delivery can cause a pitcher to bleed energy, which costs him velocity. Taillon also loads his shoulder extremely well, which is surely a factor in his tremendous velocity. The more velocity, the higher the risk of injury, however.

image
*Credit to rkyosh007

Overall, Taillon has a lot going on mechanically. He dips his back shoulder in an effort to keep his torso back while he leads with his hips. He then has a a step-over move to increase his stride length and kick-start an aggressive hip rotation. Nevertheless, he has the athletic ability and body control to coordinate all these moving parts.

Taillon generates excellent separation between his torso and hips. The torso uncoils violently forward, bringing the arm along for the ride and resulting in a whip-like arm action with the ball exploding out of his hand.

Taillon’s landing is a little inconsistent, sometimes on his arm side and in a closed position. However, he has the basics down for proper front side mechanics, firming up his glove out in front of his chest and keeping his front shoulder closed.

It’s clear Taillon is a tremendously talented pitcher. He has most of what you look for in an elite level pitching prospect and he’s somebody who can work his way quickly through a team’s minor league system because of the quality of his stuff. While he’s not a sure thing and has some things to work on, Taillon represents an opportunity for some team to add a potential true No. 1 starter into its stockpile of prospects.

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Comments

  1. TCQ said...

    God, I love this stuff. Haven’t had breakdowns like this since Carlos Gomez left – with the caveat of anything I’ve missed, obviously. Great work, Alex.

  2. Alex Eisenberg said...

    Thanks, TCQ.

    I actually did fill in for Carlos for a period of time, but it was back in 2008.

  3. Ari Berkowitz said...

    You missed one huge problem with his mechanics, the dreaded inverted W.  This combined with his fastball velocity, in my book, puts him in dangerous waters when talking about elbow/shoulder injuries.  It would not surprise me if Taillon would need serious surgery sometime in the next 5 years.

  4. Alex Eisenberg said...

    Ari,

    I don’t fall into the camp that sees an inverted arm action and immediately thinks injury.  I look for how well he repeats it, what’s his timing like, how well he uses his body—as well as his arm—to generate velocity.

    I understand the theory behind it, but that’s all it is at this point: a theory.  I see many pitchers with inverted arm actions who have long, durable, and successful careers.  I also see pitchers with inverted arm actions who get injured, but still go on to have tremendous careers.  On the other hand, I see many pitchers with “safe” mechanics who have injury-riddled careers.  There is so much unpredictability and so many other factors that go into whether a pitcher gets injured, that I tend to focus on other things and on the mechanical attributes I see as being of more importance to a pitcher’s health.

    Often times that does include arm action, but I don’t think Taillon’s arm action really qualifies for me and I explain why later on.

    Now, I do think there is some merit to the inverted arm action theories.  My personally theory is that an inverted arm action is associated with higher velocity.  It’s a more forceful loading process so there is going to naturally be a higher risk of injury.

    But I want to lead you to some discussions on pitching mechanics that includes the inverted arm action.  Both sides are well represented and maybe it will lead to a different perspective on injuries and pitching mechanics.  I tend to have less of a black-and-white view on things and a lot more grey.

    http://www.letstalkpitching.com/phpBB2/viewforum.php?f=36

    Now, getting back to Taillon…I’d actually disagree that Taillon exhibits a typical Inverted arm action.  I understand the elbow goes above the shoulder during his delivery, but it’s only there for milliseconds if that.  I fail to comprehend why a pitcher’s injury risk becomes so much greater just because the elbow goes above shoulder for such a tiny period of time.

    The reason why some believe the inverted arm action is a risk to a pitcher’s health is because of the timing problems it can create.  Not all pitchers with inverted arm actions have timing problems (I personally believe a pitcher’s timing is subjective and based on the individual, but I digress).

    The inverted arm action is seen as risky when pitcher the arm isn’t vertical and the front foot has planted and the front shoulder is opening.  The shoulder opening up too soon is hazardous for a pitcher’s health, but in Taillon’s case, he rotates his shoulders late, staying closed.  At the point where maximum stress is actually placed on a pitcher’s elbow/shoulder (the rotation of the throwing shoulder/arm into release), his elbow is actually below shoulder’s height.

    And his arm is borderline vertical by the time the front foot lands.  While that may be a negative in your view, I see it as the arm passing through vertical, which is an attribute you see in many high level/high velocity pitchers.

  5. LJ said...

    Nice, except for the “more velocity increases risk of injury.” Dr. Glenn Feisig of Jim Andrews facility says that this is not true. I heard him recently on a local radio show here in Alabama talking about Strausberg.

  6. Alex Eisenberg said...

    Thanks for the info, LJ.

    The more velocity = higher injury risk is really just a theory, but I assumed it to be a pretty logical one since high velocity throwers often have higher effort, more violent deliveries and because of this are able to produce velocities they otherwise couldn’t.

    Could you expand on what Dr. Felsig said in regard to Strasburg?

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