Jameson Taillon, P
After missing the 2014 and 2015 seasons to injury, the former No. 1 pick has dominated since returning to the hill. Taillon boasted a 2-2 record, 2.08 ERA and a remarkable 43-5 strikeout to walk ratio through his first seven starts, with a miniscule 0.808 WHIP. Five of his seven starts have been thoroughly dominant and it appears to be only a matter of time — perhaps five or six more starts — before Taillon makes his major league debut.
Taillon’s only stumbles as a professional are tied directly to his Tommy John surgery in 2014. When healthy, he has been either very good or borderline dominant.
Tyler Glasnow, P
Glasnow’s numbers through five starts are similar to Taillon’s: 2-1, 2.13 ERA with 49 strikeouts in 38 innings. Glasnow, just 22, still has not perfected a third pitch and is not quite where the team wants him to be with his command. He’s probably a little behind Taillon but not much. Expect a late-summer debut for the team’s top-rated prospect.
Glasnow is eventually viewed as a potential top-of-the-rotation starter.
Elias Diaz, C
He has made his major league debut last year and was on the Bucs playoff roster during their loss to the Cubs. Diaz needed right elbow surgery in spring training and is currently on the major league disabled list. Once he is healthy, expect to see him in the event that Francisco Cervelli or Chris Stewart suffers any sort of injury.
Stewart recently signed a three-year contract but Cervelli will become a free agent following this season. While the Pirates like Diaz’s potential, his role as the long-term answer at catcher has yet to be determined and will be heavily dependant upon what the team does with Cervelli.
Josh Bell, 1B
Bell is one of the top prospects at his position in all of baseball. A converted outfielder, Bell moved to first base two seasons ago. He is still somewhat raw defensively but his bat continues to mature. A career .305 hitter in the minors, Bell hit .300 with 3 homers and 16 RBI in April at triple-A Indianapolis this season.
While the early success of John Jaso makes Bell’s call-up less urgent, it is still likely that he will see his first major league action later this season.
Alan Hansen, 2B
With the Pirates committed financially to Jung Ho Kang and Josh Harrison for a few more seasons it is unclear exactly where Hansen fits into the long-term. He is no longer a shortstop, so eventually replacing Jordy Mercer seems unlikely although he could emerge as a potential trade piece or simply serve as an insurance policy in the middle infield. His ability to play the outfield adds to his versatility.
Either way, Hanson will probably see the major leagues at some point this year whether it is as merely a September call-up or an injury replacement.