Taillon makes triumphant season debut in return

Pirates No. 4 prospect pitches for first time since 2013

April 14th, 2016

After missing the last two seasons with injuries, Jameson Taillon was back on the mound on Wednesday for Triple-A Indianapolis in his first regular-season start since 2013 -- and he was good.

The Pirates' No. 4 prospect fired six innings of one-run ball in his highly anticipated return to pace the Indians to a 4-2 win over Toledo. Taillon, 24, scattered five hits, fanned six and did not issue a walk, throwing 58 of his 85 pitches for strikes.

"It's been a while. I felt pretty crisp." Taillon said, per the Indianapolis Indians' Twitter account. "I'm stoked to be out there competing."

MILB Video - Title: Taillon fans sixth batter - Url: http://www.milb.com/r/video?content_id=589239483

The lone run off Taillon came in the first inning, when he allowed a one-out triple to Dixon Machado, the Tigers' No. 12 prospect, and then an RBI double to Nate Schierholtz. Taillon took control after that, however, as he retired the Mud Hens' next nine hitters and kept them out of scoring position until the sixth inning. He generated six ground-ball outs in the game and struck out exactly one hitter in each inning, including five swinging strikeouts.

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Taillon, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2010 Draft after Bryce Harper, finished the 2013 season in Triple-A with a 3.89 ERA in six starts, and it seemed that it wouldn't be long until he joined his buddy Gerrit Cole in Pittsburgh's starting rotation.

"It's just fun to be part of a team again, be in the clubhouse, do the bus trips with the guys," Taillon said, according to the team's Twitter account. "Those are things I missed."

But Taillon's 2014 season came to an end before it began, as the right-hander underwent Tommy John surgery in the spring, which cost him part of the '15 season as well. When he was finally nearing a return, Taillon underwent surgery again, this time for an inguinal hernia, and he was unable to return before the end of the season.

"We're going to treat him like any other pitcher," Pirates head athletic trainer Todd Tomczyk said in Pittsburgh when asked about a potential limit on Taillon's workload this season. "We will monitor his recovery on a daily basis throughout the year to see if an innings threshold needs to be done or not."

Five questions with Taillon

Now fully healthy and coming off a strong spring in Pirates' camp, Taillon will look to pick up where he left off in 2013. If his debut is a sign of what's to come, he could be pitching alongside Cole sooner than expected.