Rookie right-hander Taylor Jordan takes the mound for the Washington Nationals in their game this morning against the Milwaukee Brewers. This is Jordan's second major league start. He wasn't a heralded prospect pre-season, little-known outside of Nationals circles, but here he is making an Independence Day start in the Show. He's had an outstanding season thus far, and a logical choice as today's Prospect of the Day.
Jordan was drafted by the Nationals in the ninth round in 2009, from Brevard Community College in Florida, signing for a $99,500 bonus. He had a decent pro debut with a 3.63 ERA and a 33/9 K/BB in 35 innings for the Gulf Coast League Nationals. in 2010 he moved up to Vermont in the New York-Penn League, where he posted an unattractive 4.94 ERA with a 54/17 K/BB and 73 hits allowed in 62 innings.
2011 began well: 9-4, 2.48 ERA with a 63/23 K/BB in 94 innings for Low-A Hagerstown. It didn't end well: his elbow gave out at mid-season, requiring Tommy John surgery. His rehab and recovery went perfectly and he was back on the mound last June, starting off with a 17/2 K/BBB in 14 innings in the New York-Penn League, then finishing with 40 innings over nine starts with a 28/9 K/BB, 4.05 ERA for Hagerstown.
Jordan opened 2013 with High-A Potomac and was dominant, posting a 1.24 ERA with a 29/6 K/BB in 36 innings. Promoted to Double-A Harrisburg, he was even better, going 7-0, 0.83 with a 43/9 K/BB in 54 innings. He was jumped to the majors last week when the Nationals needed a starter, skipping Triple-A entirely. This is quite a rise for a guy who was just finishing his Tommy John rehab a year ago.
Jordan is a 6-3, 190 pound right-hander, born January 17, 1989. His fastball velocity varies between 89 and 95 MPH, averaging around 91-92. His fastball has good sinking action and will tail in on right-handed hitters. His secondary pitches are a changeup and a slider; neither are excellent but they work well enough when he mixes his pitches properly. His control has always been good, but his command within the strike zone hasn't always been perfect, hardly an uncommon issue with young pitchers of course. He has a strong ground ball tendency and gives up very few home runs, just one in 90 minor league innings this year, and only 14 in his entire minor league career covering 339 innings.
Jordan will probably return to the minors when Dan Haren comes off the disabled list, but the rookie has come a long way in a short time. Although Jordan doesn't project as an ace, he keeps the ball down, avoids homers, and doesn't walk the ballpark. That's the recipe for a solid number four starter.