Jameson Taillon Rumors

NL Central Notes: Cards, Taillon, Stephenson

The Cardinals‘ recent firing of scouting director Chris Correa in the wake of the organization’s hacking scandal is part of a broader problem of “brain-drain,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Bernie Miklasz writes. A number of top front-office minds left the Cardinals joined Jeff Luhnow in heading to Houston several years ago, and Correa himself replaced Dan Kantrovitz, who left the Cardinals following the 2014 to rejoin the Athletics organization. The investigation into the hacking scandal continues, so the Cardinals might have to withstand other front office departures. Team chairman Bill DeWitt is in a tough position — he’ll surely want to keep what’s left of his front office mostly intact, but if he doesn’t continue punishing any other hacking offenders, he’ll be seen as “soft on baseball crime,” as Miklasz puts it. Here’s more from the NL Central.

  • Pirates starting pitching prospect Jameson Taillon will have surgery next week to fix an inguinal hernia, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review’s Travis Sawchik tweets. Taillon will miss two months, so the injury is likely to end his season. He had already missed the entire 2014 season after having Tommy John surgery and had not pitched in 2015, so he will effectively miss two years of development. Taillon was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2010 draft, and his talent remains significant, but his injury problems appear to be denting his prospect status.
  • The Reds promoted top prospect Robert Stephenson to Triple-A Louisville, where he debuted Friday night, as MiLB.com’s Daren Smith notes. Stephenson pitched well for Double-A Pensacola, with a 3.68 ERA and 10.2 K/9 in 78 2/3 innings, although he walked 4.9 batters per nine. MLB.com currently rates Stephenson the Reds’ best prospect and the 18th-best prospect in baseball, praising his fastball (which can reach into the upper 90s) and excellent curveball. (Baseball Prospectus and Baseball America largely agreed on Stephenson’s place in baseball’s prospect hierarchy, ranking him 16th and 23rd, respectively, heading into the season.) At Louisville, he’ll likely need to continue working on his control. “There have been a couple things we’ve been working on, but the big problem was that I was nitpicking too much and being too fine with my pitches,” says Stephenson. “The other thing was that I was rushing it a little bit, and when I sped up my tempo, I wasn’t able to repeat my motion and throw strikes. When I slow it down, I’m able to repeat my arm slot every time.”

Huntington On Kang, Taillon, Morton

Pirates GM Neal Huntington met with the media today prior to the team completing its three-game sweep of the Brewers. Here are some excerpts courtesy of Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

  • Echoing manager Clint Hurdle’s comments yesterday about how it is best for Jung-ho Kang to develop in the Majors rather than play everyday at Triple-A, Huntington said, “We believe Kang has earned opportunity to be on this club & is one of our best 25.” Huntington added, “The variables that would be added by dropping him now into Triple-A, in our minds, don’t make sense.
  • Top pitching prospect Jameson Taillon is making progress in his recovery from Tommy John surgery and Huntington is lookingforward to getting him against an opposition uniform sooner than later.
  • Huntington noted Taillon, the second overall selection in the 2010 amateur draft, is “continuing to make progress and continuing to check box after box,” but was mum on whether the right-hander has pitched in extended Spring Training and where he will begin his rehab assignment.
  • Huntington was more forthcoming about Charlie Morton, who threw 55 pitches in a simulated game Friday. Huntington admitted Morton’s “body just didn’t function the way the body functioned before the surgery” he underwent this past offseason to repair a torn labrum in his right hip, butwe’re getting closer to where Charlie feels like he can just go compete and doesn’t have to work through making sure that he feels right.

NL Notes: Ethier, Taillon, Lester

The Dodgers are reportedly willing to pay half of Andre Ethier‘s salary in a trade, but it’s still hard to figure out where he might be able to find regular playing time, Eno Sarris of Fangraphs writes. Ethier is nearly 33 and profiles as a below-average player, and half of the $56MM remaining on his contract is still more than he would likely get on the open market. The Braves are one team who could conceivably use him. The Phillies might work if Ethier weren’t left-handed, and the Rangers could make sense if they didn’t already have so many corner outfield options. Overall, though, there shouldn’t be much of a market. Here’s more from the National League.

  • Top Pirates prospect Jameson Taillon is scheduled to face live batters next week for the first time since undergoing Tommy John surgery in April, Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writes. Taillon, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2010 draft, only has six career starts at Triple-A, and the Pirates tend to be cautious about promoting their prospects. Health permitting, though, he could make his big-league debut at some point in the second half of the season.
  • The signing of Jon Lester helped change the Cubs‘ reputation, Paul Sullivan of the Boston Herald writes. The Cubs will lean heavily on young players this season, but Lester says there’s no reason not to expect those players to win right out of the gate. “Time to grow up sometime,” says Lester. “When I played in Boston we didn’t have time to grow up. You just had to show up and play, and each year you’re expected to win.”


Players Added To The 40-Man Roster

Midnight EST is the deadline for teams to add players to their 40-man roster in order to protect them from being selected in next month’s Rule 5 Draft. Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com lists the notable prospects who are newly Rule 5 eligible. Of course, the decision whether or not to protect a player has as much to do with roster flexibility and his expected ability to stick on a big league roster for a full season as it does the player’s overall prospect value.

We’ll keep tabs on the day’s 40-man additions here, and you can also check Baseball America’s running updates, which includes breakdowns of the players added.

  • The Rays have yet to announce their full list of roster moves, but Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper tweets that second baseman Ryan Brett will be added to the 40-man.
  • Following their trade with the Dodgers, the Rays announced that they have added Brett (as Cooper tweeted), right-hander Matt Andriese, left-hander Grayson Garvin, outfielder Mikie Mahtook and catcher Justin O’Conner to the 40-man roster.
  • The Dodgers announced that lefty Adam Liberatore, acquired in the trade with the Rays, has been added to the 40-man roster.

Earlier Updates

  • The Astros have made one final 40-man roster move, announcing the addition of right-hander Michael Feliz. Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper was among those to express surprise that Feliz had not previously been added to the roster, with some executives telling him they’d be shocked if Feliz wasn’t the No. 1 pick in the Rule 5 Draft (Twitter link).
  • The Rangers announced that they’ve added righties Luke Jackson and Jerad Eickhoff, infielder Hanser Alberto and catcher Jorge Alfaro to the 40-man roster.

(more…)


Pitcher Notes: Taillon, Parnell

The Pirates have announced that Jameson Taillon will undergo Tommy John surgery. Taillon's ulnar collateral ligament was "compromised," GM Neal Huntington told reporters, including the Tribune-Review's Karen Price. "As we walked through the process with Jameson, educated him, he's a smart young man and we walked through it with his family and representatives," said Huntington. "He felt this was the best course of action to get back to full health and stay healthy a long time." Taillon, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2010 draft, typically ranked second on lists of the Pirates' top prospects, behind outfielder Gregory Polanco. Taillon had been expected to contribute down the stretch this season, and his absence will take a toll on the Pirates' pitching depth behind starters Gerrit Cole, Francisco Liriano, Charlie Morton, Wandy Rodriguez and Edinson Volquez. Here are more notes on injured pitchers.

  • The Pirates aren't the only team to lose a pitcher to Tommy John. The Mets have announced that Bobby Parnell will undergo the surgery as well. Parnell's surgery will be performed Tuesday. Parnell was among the Mets' top relievers in 2013, posting a 2.16 ERA with 7.9 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9 and serving as their closer for part of the season.
  • If the Mets look outside the organization for relief help, they could turn to Joel Hanrahan, Ryan Madson or Kevin Gregg, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports tweets. Hanrahan and Madson, of course, are coming off injuries of their own — Hanrahan had surgery last May to repair a torn flexor tendon, and Madson has missed the last two seasons with arm trouble.

NL Central Notes: Choate, Wainwright, Guerrero, Taillon

As the Cardinals battle to represent the National League Central in the World Series, let's have a look at St. Louis and the two other post-season qualifying members of the division.

  • Left-handed reliever Randy Choate had his pick of the Cardinals and the Dodgers over this past off-season, writes Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. His manager, Mike Matheny, credits him not only for his performance on the hill but for mentoring the many excellent young arms that have cycled through the team's bullpen this year.
  • Starting for the Cards this evening was Adam Wainwright, who has been as important as any player to the team's recent successes. As MLB.com's Steve Gilbert writes, the deal that brought him to St. Louis about a decade ago could not have turned out any better for team or player.
  • Walt Jocketty, the GM who pulled the trigger on that trade, is currently at the helm of the rival Reds. Jocketty tells John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer that he is unlikely to bring aboard Cuban middle infielder Alexander Guerrero, who the club was rumored to be in on. "We scouted him extensively and had a lot of discussions," said Jocketty. "But I don't believe anything will happen."
  • Top Pirates prospect Jameson Taillon has been shut down after suffering a groin injury in his first outing in the Arizona Fall League, reports Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. The injury itself doesn't seem to be significant, however, and it seems unlikely to have a significant impact on the club's plans for 2014. With Taillon now unable to add additional innings to his arm, he will have a base of less than 150 to work from next season. Of course, that is about the level that Gerrit Cole had to build off of this year. Taillon also will miss the chance to develop against AFL talent, but he has already advanced to the upper minors and should get more time there to start the season.

NL Central Notes: Gonzalez, Wainwright, Willis, Bucs

It was on this day in 1986 that Rollie Fingers chose his mustache over the Reds.  The veteran closer was offered a Spring Training invite by the Reds on the condition that Fingers shave his famous handlebar in order to meet with the team's facial hair policies.  Fingers turned the deal down and instead retired, ending his 17-year Major League career and paving the way for his eventual induction into the Hall of Fame. 

Here's the latest from around the NL Central…

  • The Cardinals exchanged figures with Alex Gonzalez this offseason but couldn't come to terms, and the veteran shortstop instead signed with the Brewers, MLB.com's Adam McCalvy reports.  The Cards' best offer was a one-year deal worth a guaranteed $1MM plus another $1MM if Gonzalez made the roster, which couldn't top Gonzalez's deal with Milwaukee.  A dozen teams scouted Gonzalez's offseason workout sessions, with the Red Sox and Dodgers showing particular interest in the 36-year-old.
  • Steve Hammond, Adam Wainwright's agent, is out of the country for the next 10 days so there won't be any immediate extension talks between Wainwright and the Cardinals, B.J. Rains of St. Louis 1380 AM Radio reports (via Twitter).  We heard on Monday that both sides were keeping the lines of communication open about a new contract for the ace right-hander.
  • Dontrelle Willis talks to CSN Chicago's Patrick Mooney about his career, his short-lived retirement, his controversial exit from the Orioles organization and his return to the Cubs on a minor league contract.
  • The Pirates are desperate for success but ESPN's Buster Olney notes that the team must weigh the short-term benefit of a winning season against the long-term costs (both developmentally and financially) of calling up young starters Jameson Taillon and Gerrit Cole.  MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith noted earlier today that the Pirates could prevent Cole from gaining Super Two eligibility by delaying his callup until mid-June.

Pirates Notes: Huntington, Stark, Taillon

The Pirates fell below .500 when they lost to the Brewers last night, but that’s not why the team is making headlines today. Details surrounding some unusual player development practices have surfaced, generating surprise and criticism. Here are the details:

  • Pirates prospects spent this past weekend in Florida performing military drills directed by former Navy SEALS, Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports. General manager Neal Huntington and assistant GM Kyle Stark implemented the program, which started at 5 am daily and included running along the beach with a telephone pole, flipping truck tires, and diving into sand piles. Earlier in the year Stark emailed his players, encouraging them to “Dream and be creative like a Hippie. Have the discipline and perseverance of a Boy Scout. Be crazy and take risks like the Hells Angels.”
  • Kovacevic calls the Pirates' actions inexplicable and indefensible.
  • Players dreaded the activities and team officials feared them, Yahoo's Jeff Passan reports. MLB executives expressed skepticism about the program’s effectiveness. "I didn't like it,” one person told Passan. “Nobody did. They don't know what they're doing."
  • Top prospect Jameson Taillon once suffered a non-serious knee injury during the program’s hand-to-hand combat component, Passan reports.
  • “Whispers are becoming louder” that Huntington’s job status isn’t completely secure, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports. However, an ownership source told Heyman the Pirates’ upper management really seems to like manager Clint Hurdle.

Justin Upton Rumors: Tuesday

Justin Upton's no-trade protection enables him to block trades to the Yankees, Red Sox, Cubs and Indians. The Yankees have checked in on Upton, but there doesn't seem to be much traction between the two teams. Here's the latest on Upton, who collected three hits against the Reds last night…

  • Agent Larry Reynolds told Bob Nightengale of USA Today that Upton hasn’t ruled out the possibility of accepting a trade to a team on his no-trade list (Twitter link). If nothing else, the no-trade list provides Upton and Reynolds with some potential leverage.
  • The Pirates have stayed in contact with the Diamondbacks about Upton, Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports reports. So far Pirates GM Neal Huntington has refused to part with outfield prospect Starling Marte or pitching prospect Jameson Taillon in trade talks, Morosi writes.
  • ESPN.com's Buster Olney spoke with more officials who are convinced the Diamondbacks will trade Upton.
  • The Blue Jays are interested in Upton, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported today.
  • The Pirates and Diamondbacks are having trouble matching up on a trade because Arizona is seeking a shortstop, tweets Olney.

Quick Hits: Dempster, Indians, Taillon

Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster, who MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith profiled as a trade candidate last month, did nothing to hurt his market value by extending his scoreless streak to 27 innings in a 7-0 shutout of the Mets. The streak is the longest by a Cub since Ken Holtzman also tossed 27 scoreless innings in 1971 and is six innings away from tying Holtzman's club record set in 1969. Dempster meanwhile lowered his ERA to 1.99 during his five-inning stint where he struck out four and did not walk a batter. 

  • Dempster isn't paying attention to all the trade talk telling reporters, including the Chicago Tribune's Paul Sullivan (via Twitter), that the only television he watches is "Swamp People."
  • Indians outfielder Shelley Duncan doesn't think the team needs to be active at the trade deadline. "We have the talent," Duncan told reporters including MLB.com's Justin Albers. "A lot of people out there always talk about bringing in new people, getting a bat and all that stuff. But the guys we have on this team, we honestly feel from the bottom of our hearts, we don't need that. We don't need that at all."
  • In the same piece, Indians GM Chris Antonetti says finances will not affect his approach at the trade deadline. "I have not limited our focus on potential acquisitions by their contract status." Antonetti added, "There's always a sense of urgency. Every game that passes is a missed opportunity."
  • With the Pirates in first place in the NL Central and looking to be buyers at the trade deadline, pitcher Jameson Taillon's name has been mentioned as a possible trade chip. The second overall pick in the 2010 draft told Michael Sanserino of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that he tries to avoid the trade talk but it's unavoidable. "There are some people that will bring it up to you and say, 'Hey did you see this? Did you see that rumor?' To be honest, I love the Pirates. You can’t pay too much attention to it. I’m just really glad to be a Pirate." (Twitter links) Taillon will pitch for the United States during the annual All-Star Futures Game being played today in Kansas City.