Harrisburg pitcher Taylor Jordan could be on his way to the majors very soon as Nationals manager Davey Johnson and others in the organization have sent strong signals that the 24-year-old will take Dan Haren’s spot in the rotation this weekend in New York.
While Jordan was not permitted to speak with the media about his potential call-up, I caught up with several of his coaches and one of his teammates on Thursday to talk about what to expect from the young right-hander if he does indeed start against the Mets.
Harrisburg pitching coach Paul Menhart gave a breakdown of Jordan’s repertoire:
“He can get it up to 95, he’s got a sinker that he can throw, and he can spot it pretty well. He commands the fastball fairly well. He’s got a changeup that has a little split action, it can drop on occasion straight down. And a slider that’s a serviceable pitch.”
Menhart says Jordan is ready for the big leagues and has the mindset to take the challenge head-on:
“If he goes, I think he’ll perform similar to the way he’s done here. I don’t think the level is going to dictate his effort or his angst. He’s the kind of kid that has no pulse when he pitches. He’s that kind of special where he does have the ability to go pitch to pitch and focus on that particular pitch at that one time. Just because it’s the big leagues or wherever, I don’t think it really matters for this kid.”
Ask anyone who has seen Jordan pitch and his unusual delivery is often cited as a big part of his game. Jordan comes over the top with his arm and does a good job hiding the ball.
Here is how Menhart described it:
“He’s very deceptive. He’s got this funky little arm action that occurs up at the top of his delivery, and as he’s going forward it just comes out of nowhere. There is some deception so it’s very difficult for them to decipher the pitches that are actually being thrown. He throws three pitches all from the same slot.”
Teammate Steven Souza, Jr. has faced Jordan and compares his delivery to Jered Weaver and Ubaldo Jimenez:
“Jered Weaver, he goes back a little more. But they both hide it and turn, that would probably be the best comparison.”
“This year he’s kept the ball down and his hand goes behind his head. It’s one of those funky things where you see guys like Ubaldo Jimenez, they got a funky way of throwing. It’s just different. It’s not your normal reach back and throw, he goes in a different area. But it’s consistent and he consistently keeps it down. I think the biggest thing that he does is he keeps his slider and his sinker down in the same spot and works it from there. Guys can’t decide what it is so they’re late and rolling over it.”
Senators manager Matt LeCroy also thinks Jordan is ready for the majors:
“He’s done really well here, he’s shown that he can pitch at this level and be successful. He’s commanding the baseball and hopefully if he has an opportunity to go he’ll do what he’s been doing here. He has the ability to slow the game down and take it one pitch at a time. If he gets an opportunity to pitch I think that will helpful for him.”
LeCroy emphasized Jordan’s composure on the mound and ability to slow down games when he gets in trouble:
“It’s very rare. He’s one of the few guys in the five years I’ve managed that has that ability. He’s worked really hard to get to this point. He’s due a lot of credit for the work he’s put in. His command of the baseball is better than anyone I’ve had as a manager. It’s pretty special.”
If Jordan is called up, he will join Nathan Karns and Ian Krol as Harrisburg pitchers to go straight to the Nationals this season. Menhart is proud of his role in their development and says it will be a special moment to see him in a Nats’ uniform:
“Well we had Nathan Karns do it earlier this year and Ian Krol, another guy from Double-A. I don’t want to say it’s old hat because it’s still, I’m going to tear up if I see him and he does go. It’s just one of those proud papa moments, absolutely.”
Jordan is 7-0 with a 0.83 this season for the Senators after starting the year in Potomac. Across both affiliates he is 9-1 with a 1.00 ERA in 14 total starts this season.