Taillon at ease as Pirates introduce top pick
Jameson Taillon — all 6 feet, 6 inches of him — stood next to general manager Neal Huntington at PNC Park on Tuesday, tried on his new Pirates jersey for the first time and smiled.
"Feels good," the Pirates' top draft pick said with just a hint of a Texas accent. Then, as he stepped to the microphone to address the media, he asked, "How are y'all doing?"
If the 18-year-old right-hander taken second overall in the 2010 draft is as comfortable making the transition from high school to professional baseball as he is standing in front of a room full of strangers, the Pirates have a lot to look forward to.
Taillon talked about the "interesting" process of being drafted and signed, how he's played baseball since he was 5 or 6 years old, all the while dreaming of being a pro, and how the signing bonus is great but his goal is to be back at PNC Park within a few years to help the team win.
Like Stetson Allie, the Pirates' second-rounder who was introduced Wednesday, Taillon will spend some time getting acquainted with the lower pro ranks and training before taking the mound in a game situation in the Florida Instructional League next month.
The player whom Baseball America rated closest to playing in the majors of all high school pitchers said he never doubted that they'd get a deal worked out. He had a scholarship to play at Rice, but he said that being picked so high, there wasn't much else he could do but turn pro.
"I'm taking my dream and running with it," Taillon said.
Pirates scouting director Greg Smith said the biggest adjustment both Taillon and Allie will have to make going from high school to the pros is just being on the field every day, baseball in hand.
"Their throwing program, their flat ground, their bullpens, their (pitchers fielding practice), just the everyday routine is going to be the biggest adjustment," Smith said. "Granted, they're both hard workers, but they haven't experienced what's going to be ahead of them as far as what the work ethic at the professional level truly entails."