Taylor Hearn has been drafted four times, first selected by the Pirates in the 22nd round of the 2012 draft out of Royse City High School in Texas. After two years at JUCO powerhouse San Jacinto, Hearn transferred to Oklahoma Baptist for his junior season, struck out 71 hitters in 64.1 innings, and was selected in the fifth round of the 2015 draft by Washington.
Hearn was starting for the Nationals’ GCL affiliate before moving to the bullpen upon his promotion to Hagerstown. Despite pitching exclusively in relief for the past month, he has remained stretched out, throwing multiple innings in each appearance, and the Pirates have stated that they hope to develop him as a starter. He has the body and delivery for it.
A lithe and projectable 6-foot-5, Hearn has some issues repeating what is a loose and athletic delivery. The arm is quick and Hearn extends well, allowing his mid-to-upper 90s velocity to play up. Hearn sits 93-96 mph but has been up to 99 in short stints and his fastball features good downhill plane. His slider is average and Hearn has very little command of it, but it has a chance to tick up a half grade or so with reps. His changeup is also promising and projectable, mostly because of how quick and athletic the arm is, and I do think Pittsburgh is right to try to develop Hearn as a rotation arm. The body, delivery and repertoire to start are all either here already or reasonably foreseeable, though moving Hearn along as a starter will take longer than if Washington fast tracked him as a ‘pen arm.
Hearn has had some injury issues throughout his career. He suffered from a strained UCL in high school and had a screw put in his elbow as a college freshman after suffering two humeral fractures. There’s lots of risk involved here, because of Hearn’s injury history and because he throws a baseball very hard for a living, but it’s a intriguing flier for Pittsburgh.
Eric Longenhagen is from Catasauqua, PA and currently lives in Tempe, AZ. He spent four years working for the Phillies Triple-A affiliate, two with Baseball Info Solutions and two contributing to prospect coverage at ESPN.com. Previous work can also be found at Sports On Earth, CrashburnAlley and Prospect Insider.
Holy sheet, Eric used my Hearn video.