Prized pitching prospects Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon have put up good enough statistics so far at high-A Bradenton to warrant a promotion to the Curve, but the Pirates will not be basing any such decision on numbers alone for either pitcher.
So for now, both remain in A-ball, and the Bucs are not giving any timetable for when they will be called up to Altoona.
"While results play a role, they are not a deciding factor in our decision to promote a prospect or not," Pirates farm director Larry Broadway said. "More importantly, we ask ourselves: Has the player accomplished what he needs to accomplish at the current level, and is he equipped to handle the challenges of the next level both on the field and off the field? Age really doesn't play a huge factor in the decision."
Cole, the No. 1 overall pick in last year's draft, and Taillon, the No. 2 overall pick in 2010, have remarkably similar statistics for Bradenton (see comparison box), although they've taken a different path to their current numbers.
Taillon got off to a terrific start, giving up only six runs in his first seven games. But he got pounded in his eighth start against St. Lucie, allowing six runs and two homers in 5 2/3 innings May 16. He allowed two earned runs on only three hits in six innings his last time out Tuesday.
Cole struggled a bit more at the outset, allowing 13 runs - nine earned - in the first four starts of his pro career. He has been superb of late, however, allowing only four runs and 16 hits in his last five starts.
How Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon have performed in their nine starts apiece at high-A Bradenton:
"Gerrit is always trying to get better regardless of the level of success that he has from one outing to the next," said Broadway, who noted the pitcher primarily "is working on fastball command and pitch sequencing, both of which are getting better every outing."
This is Cole's first pro season, but the 21-year-old is an advanced pitcher because of his extensive college experience at UCLA.
Cole's college teammate, Trevor Bauer, was the No. 3 pick in last year's draft, and he's already in Triple-A with the Diamondbacks. Unlike Cole, Bauer signed quickly and made his pro debut last season, and he went 7-1 with a 1.68 ERA in Double-A to start this season.
Despite Bauer's rapid rise, the Pirates aren't going to be rushed into promoting Cole.
"Most important for Gerrit is for him to focus on each day and getting better each day and staying in the present," Broadway said. "He is building a solid foundation where he is at right now, and we'll discuss any promotions when the time is right."
Taillon was drafted out of high school, but while he may not have been as polished as Cole at the outset of his career, he has a full season under his belt. He was 2-3 with a 3.98 ERA in 23 starts for low-A West Virginia last year.
"He, like Cole is continuing to work on fastball command and sequencing," Broadway said.
"Both players have well-documented raw tools and tremendous physical ability. The challenge and process for us and them is to compete and use those tools as efficiently and effectively in the context of a team environment in preparation for long-term success in Pittsburgh."