Sunday, June 24, 2012

Prospects Plus: The New Generation K

Almost 20 years ago, baseball insiders were buzzing about three over the top Mets pitching prospects that were supposed to take over baseball, Generation K. Bill Pulsipher, Jason Isringhausen, and Paul Wilson where billed as pitcher that were going to take over MLB. Injuries limited them and derailed most of their careers.

Fast forward to today and the Pirates are set to have three pitching prospects that will rival Generation K. The Pirates set of prospects include Jameson Taillon, Gerrit Cole and Mark Appel. The trio are set to rivals any groups of pitching prospects in the history of baseball.

Jameson Taillon, a 2010 first round pick, has an impressive arsenal of pitches. Taillon has  a fastball that already sits in the mid-90s with movement and a devastating curve ball — rated by most to be the two best pitches in his draft class— Taillon has two potentially plus-plus pitches in his arsenal. Taillon is currently pitching in Class A ball in the Florida State League.
Gerrit Cole (above), the first overall pick in 2011, features some of the best stuff currently  in the minors. To say Cole has outstanding stuff would be an understatement. His four-seam fastball sits 96-98 MPH touching 99 MPH frequently and occasionally flirting with triple digits. Cole attacks the zone with his four-seamer; he's not afraid to throw it up or down, inside or out. While he primarily uses his four-seamer, Cole also mixes in a two-seam fastball sitting 91-94 MPH with solid sink. His fastball command has improved greatly since his high school days and now is firmly above-average.It's very rare to say this about a pitcher who throw upper-90's, but Cole's fastball is not his best pitch; his changeup is. Coming in 83-86 MPH with rare late tumble, he has a true swing-and-miss changeup. Despite his curve flashing plus potential when he was in high school, Cole has shifted his focus to a slider in college. At its absolute best, Cole's slider flashes plus but it's more consistently a notch below that. His slider sits 86-88 MPH with above-average break, but the pitch is obviously still a little raw. Cole is currently in Double A and could be with the big club by the end of the season.

Mark Appeal, a 2012 first round pick, is one of the most complete pitchers in college baseball this year. Appeal has a fastball that sits in the mid-90 and an good breaking ball that is going to only get better. Because of his build some people compare him to Giants starting pitcher Matt Cain.

While nothing is guaranteed, the Pirates have the foundation to have one of the best pitching staffs in baseball in the next couple of years or they could end up like Generation K and give their struggling fan base shattered dreams.

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