Taillon, Allie ready to take on great expectations
Duo of Bucs' heralded pitching prospects prepared to step up
They have yet to throw an official pitch in the Pirates organization, yet teenagers Jameson Taillon and Stetson Allie know exactly what kind of expectations there are on their young and powerful shoulders.
Over the past few years, the Pirates have made a concerted effort to bring a ton of young pitching talent into the system, and this past June's Draft was certainly no exception, with seven of the club's first 10 picks being high school right-handers. Taillon and Allie, two first-round talents taken with their first two selections, have automatically become the face of what the Pirates are trying to accomplish.
"There's expectations for us," said Allie, the second-rounder, as he, Taillon and the rest of the young Pirates wrapped up instructional league play recently. "We try to not think about them too much. We're just trying to focus on what we're here for, the little steps."
"We understand we're kind of considered the guys," said Taillon, the No. 2 overall pick in the Draft. "I've known [Allie] for a while, but we've become really close over the past few months. A lot of guys from the Draft have gotten really close. He's here every day, I might as well like him."
The relationship began during the summer of 2009 when both were making the showcase circuit tour. Both right-handers participated in the Under Armour All-American Game at Wrigley Field and the AFLAC All-American Game at PETCO Park. There's no doubt the Pirates are thrilled the duo has forged a strong bond already, and no one would complain if the two rose up through the system together.
"We set that tone, sending them to State College together, to get a feel for what Minor League baseball was about, to get indoctrinated that way," said Pirates farm director Kyle Stark, noting that neither Taillon nor Allie actually pitched with State College. "Then, to bring them here to submerse them in our program and philosophy, it's been good. The more we can talk about those types of things, the better we are."
Taillon and Allie, not to mention the other high schoolers in the Draft and 16-year-old recent signee Luis Heredia of Mexico, have all been down in Bradenton getting to know each other as well as how the Pirates expect their players to handle their business.
"It's been great," Allie added. "Playing every day has been fun. The atmosphere is great. I'm finally getting to do what I've been waiting for my whole life."
Taillon and Allie have become close to inseparable, acting both as support and critic for each other. If this start is any indication, there's little question both will push each other to fulfill the potential both were evaluated as having entering the Draft.
"We've been throwing partners," Taillon said. "We're good friends and we keep pushing each other."
"We're always throwing with each other, critiquing things about each other," Allie added. "We are good friends, but when we're between the lines, we're all business and try to help each other."
And they already know each other's games. Taillon is quick to point out that Allie, who gained a reputation for his triple-digit fastball, is more than just a thrower, giving his teammate credit for good overall stuff, the ability to command his fastball and his tremendous attitude. Allie gives Taillon points for pounding the strike zone and having the best breaking ball he's ever seen.
The mutual admiration society will continue during the offseason. Taillon headed home to the Houston area following instructs. After taking a little time off, he'll start workouts in earnest. But he won't be alone. Not only will he be alongside other prospects like the Cardinals' Shelby Miller, Allie will head to Texas after a little time at home in Ohio. Could the pair get a little weary of the constant company? Allie assures that's not a concern at all.
"It's baseball and we both love it," he said. "I don't think we can get sick of each other."