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cakmakli
06-08-2010, 05:47 AM
I just hope they didn't make a mistake by not drafting shortstop Manny Machado instead. Something tells me the Pirates blew it.


LINK (http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/APStories/stories/D9G6PEOG0.html)

Pirates draft Texas high school P Taillon

06/08/2010

By ALAN ROBINSON / Associated Press


Yes, another pitcher. Only this time, the Pittsburgh Pirates are certain they've picked the right pitcher.

The Pirates chose hard-throwing Texas high school right-hander Jameson Taillon with the No. 2 pick in the baseball draft on Monday night, hoping he'll be the impact starter they have failed so frequently to land in past drafts.

"There's a lot there to like," Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said.

The 18-year-old Taillon's fastball has been clocked at 99 miles per hour, and he has the kind of power arm the Pirates lack throughout their system. To choose him, they passed on Florida high school shortstop Manny Machado, who was taken at No. 3 by Baltimore.

General manager Neal Huntington called the decision to pass on Machado "gut-wrenching," but said the team went with "the guy with the big arm, the quality-now fastball, the quality-now changeup."

The Pirates are fighting their own failed history by choosing a pitcher on the first round. In 10 seasons from 1998-2007, they drafted eight pitchers and only Paul Maholm is in their rotation. Several were flops who didn't reach the majors.

Since the draft began in 1965, the Pirates have never chosen a high school pitcher on the first round who started more than one season in the majors. Taillon is the eighth such high school pitcher they've drafted during those 45 years.

"We have to acknowledge the risk. The large percentage of high school starting pitchers don't make it," Huntington said. "But given the upside, how he does things, we felt Jameson Taillon was the right pick for us. We saw the necessary traits in him to allow us comfort that he's going to be a successful major league pitcher."

Not just an ordinary one, either.

"He has the stuff that allows you to envision a top-of-the-rotation starter," Huntington said.

Taillon was 8-1 with a 1.79 ERA and 114 strikeouts in 62 2-3 innings this season at The Woodlands High, where former Pirates pitcher Doug Drabek's son, Kyle, once pitched.

The 6-foot-6 1/2, 220-pound Taillon has an excellent curveball and slider and has been compared to former Texas high schooler Josh Beckett at this stage of his career. Taillon calls Beckett his role model.

Now comes the hard part for Pittsburgh. Taillon is represented by agents Alan and Randy Hendricks, and negotiations are expected to be as difficult as if he were a Scott Boras client.

Taillon has planned for two years to attend Rice University, and he insists that college is an option even though such high draft picks almost never turn down big money from a major league team. Two of his brothers and a sister already have advanced college degrees.

While talking on a conference call, Taillon prefaced one answer by saying, "If I end up signing ..." He and the Hendricks brothers haven't begun to establish a starting point dollar-wise for negotiations.

Last year's No. 2 pick, Dustin Ackley, signed for $7.1 million with Seattle, although the Pirates probably won't have to pay that much.

"We've got a significant challenge in front of us to work through the signing process," Huntington said. "We're hopeful and optimistic we can get Jameson out (into the farm system) and build up his workload; the quicker we get him on the development path, the quicker we can get him to the major leagues."

Scouting director Greg Smith and Huntington met with Taillon for four hours last week, and the pitcher said he is not concerned about the franchise's 17 consecutive losing seasons.

"They're eager to turn it around,' Taillon said "They're trying to build through the draft, so it's a special honor to be considered a future piece of the organization."