Despite being three games over .500, the Pittsburgh Pirates appear to feel that it’s time to sell.
Closers have become the hot commodity thus far at the trade deadline. First Aroldis Chapman made waves, and now the Pirates All Star closer Mark Melancon tightens up a very loose Washington Nationals bullpen. While Chapman’s rental fee included the Chicago Cubs top prospect, Melancon came a bit cheaper.
The big return for the Pirates was 21-year old left hander Taylor Hearn. Hearn was drafted four times, first in 2012 in the 22nd round by the Pirates, then by the Reds in the 36th round of the 2013 draft, then by the Twins in the 25th round of the 2014 draft and then finally he signed with the Nationals after being selected in the fifth round of last year’s draft. All that, and he’s right back where he was originally drafted.
Here's some video from college -- Oklahoma Baptist -- I found on YouTube from Jeff Zimmerman. Seems like a pretty fluid delivery. That's a huge leg kick, and a pretty big arm on the 6-foot-5, 210 pound lefty.
Hearn made 10 nice starts for the Auburn Doubledays in the NYPL at the end of the 2015 season. He posted an unlucky 1-5 record, but a 3.98 ERA and 38 strikeouts to 13 walks over 48 innings. He started four games this season at the beginning of the year — two in the GCL and two with Hagerstown in the Sally — but has since begun pitching two or three innings an appearance out of the bullpen to mixed results. His 2016 line stands at 1-0, with a 3.18 ERA, a 1.38 WHIP and a much improved 39 strikeout to 13 walk ratio, striking out 12.3 per nine while walking just 2.78.
Here’s what our own John Sickels had to say about him in his 2016 Prospect Guide:
Taylor Hearn was a fifth round pick last June from Oklahoma Baptist University. At the time there was "who is this guy?" commentary but Hearn (a native of Royse City northeast of Dallas, population 9,349) was closely followed by Texas and Oklahoma scouts for several years: this was actually the fourth time he’s been drafted. Hearn’s performance in high school and college was erratic but scouts loved his very loose, very athletic build. He took a large step forward last summer, showing a fastball as high as 98 MPH along with an improved breaking ball and better control. He’s still rather raw but there’s a chance he could be a fine starting pitcher or perhaps a dominant reliever. The natural ability is there anyway and the pitchability is getting better. Keep an eye on him. Grade C with a SLEEPER ALERT.
With the Pirates getting only 25-year old bullpen arm Felipe Rivero — who sports a career 3.67 ERA out of the bullpen — along with Hearn as their return, they sure hope that Hearn is a sleeper who wakes up as Melancon is one of the best in the business.