Taillon tabbed as Pirates' Hooton Foundation rep

GM Huntington: Top prospect Keller 'pretty close' to joining Bucs

May 19th, 2019

SAN DIEGO -- Pirates right-hander Jameson Taillon is the team’s representative on the advisory board of the Taylor Hooton Foundation, an organization that advocates against youth using appearance- and performance-enhancing substances.

Taillon is a natural fit, given his all-natural upbringing. He said his mom, Christie, was a role model for healthy living. She is a vegetarian -- “really, about as close to vegan as you can be,” Taillon said -- and brought healthy and sometimes exotic foods into the household.

“In high school, I was eating organic peanut butter with whole grain bread,” Taillon said. “Instead of fruit roll-ups, I had organic fruit leathers. I was always eating something different. I had the exotic fruits in my lunch -- starfruit and whatnot. I’ve always been an exotic eater. My mom had us try a lot of different things. That exposed me at a younger age to the benefits of diet.”

As an athlete, Taillon chose that diet, and exercise, as his path to success, even as he saw others opt for shortcuts from over-the-count supplements or, he suspected, banned substances. That hasn’t changed, even with the pressure to perform after injury. Taillon, 27, is on the 60-day injured list with a right elbow strain and has faced even greater adversity -- testicular cancer in 2017, a hernia in '16 and Tommy John surgery in '14.

Taillon's experiences attracted him to the mission of the Taylor Hooton Foundation.

“It seemed like my views kind of aligned with theirs,” he said. “I’m always watching what I put in my body. I always try to go diet first before supplements -- sleep and recovery before having to take anything that’s bad for your body. It just seemed like a good fit.”

Taillon, in his second year as the Bucs’ representative, is one of 42 Major Leaguers on the foundation’s advisory board. Players serve as role models, participate in a public service campaign and speak to kids. Taillon last year participated in a clinic at PNC Park that finished with a lively Q&A session.

“It was cool access to the youth,” he said. “Hopefully I can provide a positive impact in their lives.”

The friends and family of Taylor Hooton formed the foundation in 2004 after his death at age 17 following his use of anabolic steroids. It has reached more than 2 million people in its effort to educate youth about the dangers of PEDs and similar substances.

Keller scratched from Triple-A start

Right-hander Mitch Keller, the Pirates’ top prospect according to MLB Pipeline, was scratched from his scheduled start Sunday with Triple-A Indianapolis. The move does not appear to be related to the fact that the Bucs don’t have a scheduled starter listed for Wednesday's game against the Rockies.

Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said on his weekly appearance on flagship radio station KDKA that Keller is “in the process of solidifying the addition of a slider/cutter.” The organization wants to see that transition play out before tabbing the 23-year-old for Major League duty, Huntington said.

“We’re still keeping our eyes and ears on Mitch,” Huntington said. “Our conversations have continued to be [he’s] pretty close, but we’d prefer for him to finish this addition.”

Keller is 4-0 with a 3.83 ERA through eight starts this season. He has 50 strikeouts in 40 innings.


• Outfielder Lonnie Chisenhall, on a rehab assignment with Indianapolis after sustaining a left calf strain, has been given a few days off to regroup, but has not suffered a physical setback, Huntington said during his aforementioned radio appearance.

• Catcher Francisco Cervelli was out of the lineup for a fourth straight day Sunday, even though it was a day game following a night game. Cervelli, who started 30 of the club's first 40 games, has ceded playing time to Elias Diaz behind the plate while getting a mental breather. Cervelli is batting .179 with a .505 OPS this season.