Pirates bump top prospect Jameson Taillon up to Triple-A

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Jameson Taillon, the second overall pick in the 2010 draft after Bryce Harper, is on his way up to Triple-A Indianapolis after getting promoted by the Pirates on Friday, the Altoona Mirror’s Cory Giger reports.

Taillon was 4-7 with a 3.67 ERA and a 106/36 K/BB ratio in 110 1/3 innings for Double-A Altoona. He still hasn’t truly dominated at any level — he’s 15-18 with a 3.70 ERA since his pro debut in 2011 — but given his excellent stuff and history of fine walk rates, he’s regarded as one of the game’s top five pitching prospects. It’s doubtful that he’ll see the majors this year, but he could be broken in next season much like Gerrit Cole was this year.

Once that happens, the Pirates could have all of the following top-11 overall draft picks on their roster:

Neil Walker – 2004 11th overall
Andrew McCutchen – 2005 11th overall
Pedro Alvarez – 2008 2nd overall
Tony Sanchez – 2009 4th overall
Jameson Taillon – 2010 2nd overall
Gerrit Cole – 2011 1st overall

Assuming all goes well with Taillon and Cole, then it’s a good guess that they won’t be picking in the top 11 again anytime soon.

Jon Gray will start Opening Day for the Rockies

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Manager Bud Black has tabbed Jon Gray to start on Opening Day for the Rockies. That will be Monday, April 3 in Milwaukee against the Brewers in an afternoon contest.

Gray, 25, is starting Opening Day for the first time in his career. He’ll be the sixth different Rockies pitcher to start Opening Day in as many years.

The Rockies and Gray had a bit of a scare on Friday as he left his spring training start with discomfort in his left foot, but everything came up clean in an MRI. He pitched again on Wednesday with no issue.

Last season, Gray went 10-10 with a 4.61 ERA and a 185/59 K/BB ratio in 168 innings. A consensus top prospect entering each of the previous three seasons, Gray surprisingly put up better numbers at Coors Field — the most hitter-friendly park in baseball — than away.

Blake Treinen named Nationals closer

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Today Washington Nationals manager Dusty Baker named Blake Treinen as his closer. Treinen has saved exactly one big league game.

There wasn’t necessarily an obvious choice, however. Last year Washington had Mark Melancon, but with him gone and GM Mike Rizzo’s failure to land a high-profile closer in the offseason, it became a contest between Treinen Shawn Kelley and Koda Glover.

Treinen posted a 2.28 ERA with 31 walks and 63 Ks in 67 innings in 2016. His big improvement last year came against lefties, who had tattooed him in the past. He pitched well this spring as well, but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything.

The Nats are our favorites to win the NL East, but we do have some questions about the pen. Blake Treinen will take the first crack at answering them.