By any name, Taillon is mighty good

High School : : General
Jim Ecker        
Published: Monday, July 06, 2009

Jameson Taillon answers to lots of names. In fact, you can take your pick.

You can call him Jameson (jay-mi-sen), his given first name, or simply Jamo, his often-used nickname. “Honestly, either one works,” he said. “I don’t really care.”

And then there’s his surname, which gets trickier. You can pronounce it "TAY-own," which is the proper French-Canadian version, or you can simply go with "Tallen," which is OK, too.

“Tallen is a lot easier,” Jamo said. “It’s the American version.”

His father, Michael, goes by the American version in the business world, but the family acknowledges that TAY-own is formally correct, tracing to their French-Canadian roots.

To most people in Woodlands, Texas, he’s Jamo, a hard-throwing 6-foot-7 right-hander who has been selected to play in the Aflac High School All-American Baseball Classic at PETCO Park in San Diego on Aug. 16. Perfect Game considers him the top-ranked high school player in the country for the Class of 2010 with his 96 mph fastball and wicked curve.

“When he can locate his curveball, he’s darn-near unhittable,” said Ron Eastman, his coach at The Woodlands High School, a large public school that’s located a short drive north of Houston. “If I don’t mess him up, he’s got first-rounder or second-rounder written all over him.”

Eastman knows something about first-round draft picks. Kyle Drabek, now in Double-A ball with the Phillies, was a first-round pick from The Woodlands in 2006, the year the Highlanders went wire-to-wire as the No.1 team in their class and won the state title. Drabek, by the way, is the son of Doug Drabek, who won the National League Cy Young Award with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1990. Brett Eibner, now pitching for the Arkansas Razorbacks, also played on that 2006 club at The Woodlands and was a fourth-round pick in the 2007 draft by Houston, but Eibner went to college instead and helped the Razorbacks reach the College World Series this year.

Eastman knew Taillon was a special talent since his first day on the varsity as a ninth grader. “He demonstrated a tremendous work ethic and presence that most freshmen don’t have,” said Eastman. “To me, what separates him is his competitive nature and his ability to stay calm and composed on the mound.”

Taillon compiled a 7-2 record with a 1.50 ERA at The Woodlands this year as a junior, with 95 strikeouts in 56 innings. He had an impressive showing at the PG National Showcase in Minneapolis in early June and is now busy with summer ball.

It’s interesting to wonder if Jamo would have become an outstanding baseball player if his father, a Canadian, had not migrated to the southern part of the United States after graduating from the University of Toronto, where he excelled in hockey and lacrosse. A great-great-great uncle on his father’s side, Edouard “Newsy” Lalonde, starred for the Montreal Canadians hockey team nearly a century ago and is a member of the NHL Hall of Fame, an original member of Montreal’s “Flying Frenchmen.”

“I’ve never been ice skating in my life. Not once,” said Jamo, laughing. “The Woodlands is a hotbed for baseball.”

Taiilon was born in Lakeland, Fla., but the family moved to the Houston area when he was 4. An older brother, Jordan, became a star tennis player and a Division III All-American in college, but Jamo’s sport has been baseball. Always.

“He latched onto it and that’s been his sport ever since he was a little boy,” said Michael Taillon. “His love and passion has always been baseball.”

Jamo showed what he could do in a YMCA League as a young boy. “I hit a bunch of home runs then,” he recalled. A few years later, he helped The Woodlands Bulls become the top 12-and-under team in the country. “He’s always been a big boy,” his father said, “and he’s always thrown the baseball hard.”

Taillon uncorked a 96 mph heater at the National Showcase in Minneapolis, but topped that in a high school playoff game. “I got it up to 97 a few times,” he said. “There was a little adrenaline there.”

Taillon has committed to play college baseball at Rice, where he’d be a prime catch with his talent and 3.8 GPA, but at his current pace he could be looking at a lucrative professional contract a year from now following the 2010 draft. And sooner or later, he’ll have to tell people what to call him.

“Everybody in our program just calls him Jamo,” said Eastman. “He’s been Jamo to us since he was a ninth grader.”
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