In 2015, Hearn was 9-0 with a 3.50 ERA in 15 games, striking out 71 in 64 innings for Oklahoma Baptist.
June 2015: The Nationals made Taylor their 5th round pick, out of Oklahoma Baptist University. Taylor signed for a $275,000 bonus, via scout Ed Gustafson.
It was the fourth-straight year Hearn was drafted! He was a 22nd-round pick of the Pirates out of high school, a 36th-round pick as a freshman out of San Jacinto (Calif) CC and a 25th-round pick of the Twins in 2014.
In 2016, the Baseball America Prospect Handbook rated Hearn as the 28th-best prospect in the Nationals' organization.
He moved up to #13 before 2017 spring training camp opened, after being acquired by the Pirates. And he was their 9th-best prospect in the spring of 2018. He was not rated in 2019 but came in at #28 in the spring of 2020 after being traded to the Rangers.
Rodeo: The Calgary Stampede or the National Finals Rodeos are probably out of the question. But there was a time when that would have been Hearn’s ultimate dream.
“When I was growing up, rodeo stars were bigger than baseball stars,” Hearn said.
That’s because two of the best rodeo cowboys Hearn ever saw were his grandfather, Cleo, and father, Robby. The love of rodeo runs deep in the Hearn family and Taylor was right there with the rest of them growing up in small towns east of Dallas.
From the time he was 4 years old until he became a star pitcher at Royse City High, Hearn competed in calf roping at major rodeos not only in Texas but also across the country.
Hearn, acquired from the Pirates last summer, is in Major League camp with the Rangers because he’s part of a talented group of young pitchers who represent the future of the franchise. He's also No. 11 on Texas' Top 30 Prospects list, per MLB Pipeline. But Hearn is a native Texan and proud part of a prominent African-American rodeo legacy as well.
“I have been riding horses since I was 4 or 5 years old,” Hearn said.
His grandfather is a legend, a native of Seminole, Okla., who was the first African American to attend college on a rodeo scholarship and the first to win a major calf roping event in 1970 at the Denver National Rodeo. His Cowboys of Color is a major event at the Fort Worth Stock Show. And he has a star on the Texas Trail of Fame at the Fort Worth Stockyards. (T.R. Sullivan - MLB.com - Feb. 24, 2019)
Cleo’s four sons were all into the rodeo. That includes Robby Hearn, who works as an accountant at the Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas but still competes in rodeo events.
“He was really good,” Taylor said. “He and my uncle Wendell were the two best I’ve ever seen. My parents stuck me on a horse when I was 4 years old, and I have been riding ever since. They didn’t force it upon me, but it was something I decided was kind of fun. Plus, it was something that took my mind away from things on the weekends.”
Standard rodeo events include calf roping, bronco busting and steer wrestling. Taylor stuck to calf roping and stayed away from the busting and wrestling.
“Calf roping was safer and something I’m good at,” he said.
Baseball and other sports kept Hearn from getting too deep into the sport, but the family did travel as far as North Dakota, Wyoming and Nebraska to compete in major rodeos. They were there with the great African-American cowboys that he looked up to including Cory Solomon, Bud Ford and eight-time world champion Fred Whitfield.
“I did pretty well,” Hearn said. “I remember one rodeo I went to up in Oklahoma, I was 13 or 14, probably 150 to 200 kids there. I remember I got top 10 in the last two rounds, and I think I went home with $300-$400.”
One would think that calf roping had something to do with Hearn developing a powerful pitching arm, but …
“I throw with my left arm and rope with my right arm,” Hearn said. “The best part was just meeting people. It was just like baseball, you’d see guys you knew from TV and been doing this a long time, and I’m a young kid and I’m getting to meet them. I started roping when I was 7 and didn’t stop until I was 15 of 16.” (T.R. Sullivan - MLB.com - Feb. 24, 2019)
Nov 22, 2019: There was a Taylor Hearn sighting. The Rangers left-handed pitcher, who seemed to disappear for almost seven months, was at the Rangers MLB Youth Academy. Hearn was there along with teammates Joey Gallo, Nomar Mazara and Jeffrey Springs to distribute Thanksgiving dinners.
“This is something I’ve always wanted to do especially in my home town,” said Hearn, who is from nearby Royse City. “Just to be able to put a Rangers jersey on and help out families or anybody in need. I love this type of stuff, love doing it. It’s about giving back.”
This is an annual event for the Rangers, sponsored by Power 2 Change Foundation and Buckner Children and Family Services. The deserving families receiving the dinners were selected by Buckner and the Dallas Housing Authority.
“It’s always great to give back to the community and be with the guys and hand out some food,” Gallo said. “It’s an event I always love doing.”
It was especially important for Hearn. He was given the go-ahead to begin his offseason throwing program with all signs pointing to being full strength for Spring Training. That will be a tremendous boost for Hearn. Everybody needs something to be thankful for at Thanksgiving and for Hearn, it’s simply about being healthy again after what he went through this past 2019 season.
“It was really rough,” Hearn said. “Last [season] was rough, especially being in Arizona after rehabbing and wanting to get back out there. It was to the point where I didn’t watch any of the Rangers' games for 2-3 months just because it was hard.”
It was almost like everybody forgot about Hearn once rookie left-handers Joe Palumbo, Brock Burke and Kolby Allard started getting their chance late in the season.
“If they did, that’s fine,” Hearn said. “I am going to resurface in Spring Training. I’m not worried about it.”
Hearn was one of the Rangers top pitching prospects coming out of Spring Training, and the plan was for him to get extended development time in Triple A. That changed in April when Edinson Vólquez and Drew Smyly went on the injured list and the Rangers needed a starting pitcher.
Hearn was called up to start against the Mariners on April 25. The problem was that Hearn had some soreness in his left elbow and didn’t tell anybody.
“I didn’t think much of it,” Hearn said. “But when I went out there, when the game started going, my arm didn’t feel too well. It was to the point when I was trying to get my arm up and I didn’t know where the ball was going. I was in some serious pain.”
Hearn was diagnosed with a strained ligament in the elbow and was sent to the Rangers complex in Surprise, Ariz., to go through a rehab program. By the end of June, Hearn had progressed to the point where he was close to pitching in a game when he started experiencing more discomfort. Further examination revealed a fracture in the elbow.
Hearn never did pitch in a game. It took him six weeks before he could even resume a throwing program. That was in late August.
“It took me a while to get my confidence back,” Hearn said. “When I started back throwing it was a little rough because I was a little scared.”
Hearn said the confidence started coming back when he was stretched out to 120 feet and able to throw with no pain. But he was still doing rehab work while Burke, Palumbo and Allard were pitching for the Rangers.
“I was happy for them,” Hearn said. “I got to know them in big league camp and was friends with them. I was pulling for them. I’d watch their starts, but I’d watch four or five innings and then cut the TV off.”
He finished his rehab program with four bullpen sessions off the mound. Everything went well.
“Talking with the medical staff, they are happy I’m back to normal and looking forward to 2020,” Hearn said. “They were making sure the arm was well and the spin efficiency was right. I never throw bullpens at full tilt, but I had to do it and felt good doing it just to make sure I felt right.”
Hearn took two weeks off and now begins a normal offseason throwing program. Hearn is going to enjoy this Thanksgiving and he was able to share that joy with others in West Dallas. (TR Sullivan - MLB.com - Nov 22, 2019)
June 15, 2020: Rangers left-hander Taylor Hearn covered a wide range of topics during his webinar with players from Major League Baseball's RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities) program. Hearn talked about pitching. He talked about the importance he placed on education as a college player. And he talked, of course, about the rodeo.
Yes, the 6-foot-5, 210-pound Hearn is quite an accomplished calf-roper, and, what's more, he comes from a long line of them. Hearn's grandfather, in fact, is a legend in this field, and owns a bit of history -- Cleo Hearn was the first African American to attend college on a rodeo scholarship. He was also the first African American to win a major calf roping event in 1970 at the Denver National Rodeo.
Cleo passed his love for calf-roping to his four sons, and that was passed along to the next generation, including Taylor, who first started riding horses when he was around 4 years old.
"The very first sport I ever did was rodeo," Hearn said to an international online audience made up of young people from several RBI programs. "It's the first sport I ever did, and it's something that will never leave me."
Hearn's webinar was one of several online events MLB has organized this week to engage players and fans, even while not being able to do so in person. Hearn, a native of Royse City, Texas, was presented with a number of questions from the audience, ranging from his general interests away from the field (he likes to cook, he loves pizza and he's watched every episode of all 18 seasons of "Family Guy"), how he's been staying busy during the shutdown, and what advice he has for young people to get through these tough times.
Hearn also talked about the importance of education, and taking advantage of academic opportunities while pursuing athletics. As a collegian, with no guarantees that a good amateur baseball career will translate into professional success, Hearn made sure he was dedicating as much time to his schooling as he was to baseball.
"Not everybody is going to make it to the Majors," Hearn said. "That's why I took school seriously. If something were to happen, heaven forbid I got injured and I couldn't play, I want to be able to go back to school and just jump back in and be able to finish and not think, 'I really regret not taking the classes seriously,' where you have to start over again."
Coming up is Juneteenth. And against that backdrop, MLB has several webinars planned for the week with the goal to reach out to young people, and touch on social issues within the sport. MLB will present a roundtable chat titled "Being Black in Baseball & America," hosted by MLB Network analyst Harold Reynolds and featuring Major League players Josh Bell, Jon Duplantier and Sterling Sharp, along with MLB education ambassador Sharon Robinson. The show will be available on MLB's YouTube channel.
The session with Hearn was specifically geared toward young people who would be playing baseball right now but instead are, like so many in the country, absorbing the weight of trying times that serve as a sharp contrast to carefree summers of the past.
Hearn encouraged the kids to use this time to set goals, and also, communicate.
"Try to understand, but also be open and listen," he said. "I think the biggest problem we have is when we have conversations with people, it's very hard if nobody wants to sit back and listen. It's something that I've always embraced and something that's always been part of me.
"I've always been a good listener. People say to me, 'You don't say much.' I say, I'm listening to you. I'm trying to get your perspective—whether that's in baseball or whether it's in life. Especially with stuff that's going on right now."
After one participant asked about what white coaches and administrators can do to promote inclusion in youth leagues, Hearn shared some of his experiences of often being the lone black player on his baseball teams growing up.
He again stressed the importance of communication.
"Even now, at times, in some of the clubhouses in pro ball, I was the only black guy on the team," Hearn said. "The coaches were very nice and respectful people, but I think it's just about being open—don't be so timid to have these conversations. At the end of the day, it's not about color. We're all trying to win games for each other and for the team and the coaches." (A Footer - MLB.com - June 15, 2020)
Rangers pitcher Taylor Hearn launched “Taylor Hearn’s Week of Giving.”
The Royce City native will participate in multiple community outreach projects across the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex through Monday, November 22.
“Thanksgiving is a time not just for giving thanks for what we have, but for giving a helping hand to others in need,” said Hearn. “I’m fortunate that I am in a position to give back to my community and am grateful for the partners who helped to make it possible.”Earlier today, with help from Kroger, Hearn was on-site at Kennedy-Curry Middle School to donate $100 grocery store gift cards to 52 families. The $5,200 donation, presented to Kennedy-Curry Principal Patrice Ruffin-Brown, will help those families fill their Thanksgiving tables.
Hearn and several of his Rangers teammates will assist with the Thanksgiving turkey distribution hosted by the Texas Rangers Youth Academy and nonprofit Buckner International. Hearn will be at the West Dallas Youth Academy at 4:30 p.m. to hand out turkeys, pies, and sides to 250 preregistered families.
To conclude his Week of Giving, Hearn has organized a donation to the Arlington Life Shelter scheduled for Monday, November 22 at 4:30 p.m. With help from Hurtado’s BBQ, Hearn will serve dinner at the Arlington Life Shelter and will be joined by his family and teammates Matt Bush and John King. Hearn will also donate hats, gloves, and socks to the Arlington Life Shelter for those in need of warm clothing during the winter months. (MLB - November 17, 2021)
April 11, 2022: While ultimately saddled with a no-decision in the Rangers' 6-4 loss to the Rockies on Monday, starting pitcher Taylor Hearn still got to give a very special postgame press conference.
It began when the microphone was handed to Robyn Hearn, who is the sports director at KAUZ News Channel 6 covering Texas and Oklahoma . . . and Taylor's younger sister.
While Robyn posed a lighthearted question, asking if her brother's recovery after a rough first inning had anything to do with someone special being in the press box, Taylor took the opportunity to deliver a heartfelt message in person, thanking Robyn for her support and expressing his desire to set a good example for her. Obviously, the exchange made for a sweet moment—and gave us a reason to hope Robyn makes it to a few more Rangers games this season. (Shanthi Sepe-Chepuru)
Taylor Hearn is used to dirt. He is used to the tightly packed MLB mound dirt. And this dirt, right here in the Ford Arena in Tulsa, Okla.
“I’ve been in so many rodeo arenas, I couldn’t …” Hearn trails off from the bleachers. “It’s just like baseball. You could sit there and say, ‘Hey, I saw you pitch against the Padres on this date,’ and I’m like, ‘I don’t remember.’ But yeah, this arena does bring back memories because I do remember we would always have our family rodeos here.”
It is Feb. 5, 2023 and Hearn is in Tulsa to serve as a guest color commentator for a regional qualifier of The American Rodeo by Teton Ridge, one of the biggest rodeo events of the year, the finals of which will be held in mid-March at Globe Life Field. As part of the day’s proceedings, he’s taking part in a drill where he and Riley Webb, a professional tie-down roper, take turns practicing that portion of the event.
It is the first time Hearn has tied a calf in roughly a decade.
It’s unlikely that it will be the last time. Rodeo is the family business. Taylor’s dad Robby was also a professional tie-down roper. So are his uncles Wendell, Harlan and Eldon. And his grandfather Cleo is a legend, known during his time in the sport as “Mr. Black Rodeo.”
Hearn has been consistent in saying that when his baseball career is over, he plans to pick up where he left off: tie-down roping, as a member of the PRCA (Professional Rodeo Cowboys of America). It’s a plan he originally intended to keep a secret until he retired.
“I was going to play my whole career and not say anything, and then just be working on it in the background,” Hearn says. “And then once I retired, the plan was to post a video of me roping … And (my teammates) would be like, ‘Wait, you do that? Why didn’t you ever tell me about that?’ Nobody asked … People would be like, ‘What are you gonna do now?’ and I wasn’t going to answer no questions, I was just gonna post a video of me roping and they’d be like, ‘Oh, that’s what you’re doing now.'”
Alas, his plan was spoiled not long after Hearn was traded to the Rangers, when a local news station featured a vignette on the Texas native. But while a post-baseball transition to professional rodeo is an unorthodox plan, the career move would simply be a return to his roots. There is a documentary on YouTube simply titled “Black Rodeo.” About two-thirds of the way through, a familiar voice can be heard.
“I heard a lot of talk about you,” the voice says. “You and your whole gang. I want you to saddle up and ride out! Take your pistols off right now. I’m the new sheriff in this town!”
The camera cuts to reveal that the new sheriff is none other than Muhammad Ali, who then proceeds to ride a horse down 125th street in Harlem, New York. It was Sept. 5, 1971, and a group of Black cowboys had organized the event to bring the Wild West to the city to showcase a burgeoning subculture to a new generation. Among those organizers was Cleo. This gathering was one of a series of Black rodeos that Hearn helped organize shortly after founding the American Black Rodeo Association. When Taylor refers to “our family rodeos,” this is what he’s talking about. Taylor also likes to work with young players, teaming up with the Players’ Alliance to help advance the sport among underrepresented youth.
“Not being … hesitant to give back to inner cities,” Hearn said in 2021. “That’s where a lot of the (problem) is, and I’m tired of seeing people criticizing inner-city kids and their upbringing. … As a professional baseball player, I can help out! And it’s a matter of getting a whole city, everybody together, to try to fix it.”
While Hearn was competing in youth rodeos, he was also participating in a more traditional path: Little League baseball. That, too, may have been something of a family legacy — according to some reports, Cleo’s dad Doc (Taylor's great-grandfather) played semi-pro ball. His cousin Shed also played — according to Baseball-Reference, Shedrick Hearn pitched for the Sherman-Denison Twins in 1953 and the Seminole Oilers in 1959. A 1959 news story from the Oklahoma City Oklahoman describes Shed as “the IML’s top hurler,” and another shows him winning “individual honors” as the best pitcher in the league.
Once Taylor had advanced past tee-ball and coach pitch, his dad recognized that his son threw harder than most of the other kids. As Little League gave way to travel ball, and Taylor continued to excel, it was time to make a decision: spikes or boots?
“We always let him pick what he wanted to play,” Robby, Taylor's father says. “I told him: ‘Rodeo’s a rough way to make a living. You’ll make more money playing baseball.’ My dad roped up until he was 70 because you can always come back and rope. You can’t always come back and play baseball.”
In the meantime, Hearn is happy to get moments in the arena while he continues his baseball career. For now, that means the occasional tying drill, and an afternoon in the broadcast booth watching guys he grew up with as they compete — on that other kind of dirt. (Weaver - Mar 3, 2023 - The Athletic)
June 2015: The Nationals made Taylor their 5th round pick, out of Oklahoma Baptist University. Taylor signed for a $275,000 bonus, via scout Ed Gustafson.
July 30, 2016: The Nationals traded Hearn and Filepe Rivero to the Pirates for RHP Mark Melancon.
July 31, 2018: The Rangers traded RHP Keone Kela to Pittsburgh Pirates for Taylor Hearn and Player To Be Named Later.
Jan 13, 2023: Hearn and the Rangers avoided arbitration, agreeing to a one-year deal for $1.4625 million.
July 24, 2023: The Rangers traded LHP Taylor Hearn to the Braves for cash.
- July 30, 2023: The Braves have acquired infielder Nicky Lopez from the Royals in a one-for-one swap that sent left-hander Taylor Hearn to Kansas City.
|Birth City:||Royse City, TX|
|Draft:||Nationals #5 - 2015 - Out of Oklahoma Baptist Univ.|
Hearn's FASTBALL comes in at mid 90's to 98 mph for his only plus pitch, which induces plenty of groundballs, thanks to the steep downhill angle his 6-foot-5 frame creates. Taylor's secondary pitches lag far behind his heater though, with his SLIDER still inconsistent and his 84-86 mph CHANGEUP still coming in as fringe-average. Hearn's needs to sharpen his secondary pitches to miss more bats and he needs to improve his fastball command. (Spring 2020)
Taylor's premium velocity from the left side is particularly uncomfortable for opponents because of his angle and long arms that create good extension out front, with the ability to get swings and misses up in the zone. Improving his command and pitch sequencing are focal points for his development. (Spring 2019).
2019 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball 66.2% of the time; his Sinker 1.4%; Change 11.4%; and Slider 18.3% of the time. Average velocity: 4-seam 94 mph, Sinker 97.7, Changeup 84.5, and Slider 82.2 mph.
2020 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball 60.5% of the time; Change 11.4%; and Slider 28.1% of the time. Average velocity: 4-seam 95.6 mph, Changeup 85.6, and Slider 84.4 mph.
Taylor lacks consistent control, which needs refinement. (Spring 2018)
A move to the bullpen, if his changeup and command do not improve, would be obvious.
2017 improvements: Hearn added a new slider in the AFL with some help from outside the organization. (Tim Williams - November 8, 2017 - Pirates Prospects)
A big question for Taylor is: Will he remain a starter. That might not be possible if his control and slider don’t improve.
Hearn has shown more starter traits than evaluators first saw.
June 27, 2018: Hearn fired a seven-inning shutout, allowing four hits and striking out seven, in the first game of Double-A Altoona's eventual doubleheader sweep of Harrisburg. It was the first shutout of Hearn's career.
In 2020 Taylor's fastball was his best pitch. Thrown 61% of the time with an average velocity of 95 mph, Taylor Hearn’s fastball is the real deal. Hearn’s fastball generated a 67% strike rate while limiting batters to a .169 xBA. Of that 67%, an impressive 28.9% were all strikes (the eighth-highest mark in baseball). All of this was reflected in a fastball pVAL of 4.5 during the 2020 season. (Shawn Barletta - March 30, 2021)
Aug 17, 2021: Taylor has been in multiple roles for the Rangers’ pitching staff this season, most notably in middle relief, pitching two or three innings at a time. Taylor got his first official “audition” as a Rangers starter as Texas lost 3-1 to the Mariners at Globe Life Field. In a career-high five innings, he allowed five hits and two earned runs with no walks. He also tossed a career-high 72 pitches.
“He’s been throwing really well for us,” said Rangers manager Chris Woodward. “He was able to get through five innings and probably should’ve only given up one run there. He used his pitches, his slider was pretty good. It backed up on him a few times, but it was effective. He did a nice job.”
“I just want to make sure that I, physically and mentally, that I'm a different guy than I was at the beginning of the year,” Hearn said. “[I’d say I’m] a lot different now than I was at the beginning of the year. I know just mentally and physically, I had to do whatever I could to try to maintain everything and not change much. It was honestly just trial and error and getting comfortable with my mechanics, and just trying to figure out what all they needed me to do.” (K Landry - MLB.com - Aug 18, 2021)
- 2021 Improvements: Hearn has added a pitch to his arsenal. More specifically, the 26-year-old Rangers southpaw has reintroduced a pitch that he’s throwing in a notably different way. Unveiled mere months ago, it’s a potential career-changer.
David Laurila: You’ve added a sinker to your repertoire. Was that a simple matter of wanting to induce more ground balls?
Taylor Hearn: “Honestly, I was getting ground balls, It was a pitch I’d thrown before, and I kind of wanted to learn it again but in a different way. I’m always trying to figure out what I can add to my repertoire, whether it’s a curveball or whatever else.”
Laurila: When had you thrown a sinker?
Hearn: “I had it when I came over here, to Double-A Frisco [from the Pirates via trade in July 2018]. I wasn’t really throwing it too much, and it wasn’t really even a sinker — it was just a regular two-seamer — and it just didn’t have the movement, because I’d never really had anybody teach me that. This year, I asked about throwing a sinker. They showed me one, I threw it, and we got numbers I’d never had before. I decided to run with it.”
Laurila: Was this in spring training?
Hearn: “No, this was actually during the season. I started throwing it in Minnesota [in early May]. The first game I threw it in was away, against Seattle [in late May].”
Laurila: How does it differ from your old two-seamer?
Hearn: “It’s a completely different grip. Again, the old one was a two-seam, and this one is more of a sinker. It’s almost like a one-seam, basically. And it’s been money for me. It’s a pitch that’s helping out my fastball, which is what I wanted it to do. It’s been clutch for me, keeping guys off my four-seam, and for mixing-and-matching as well.”
Laurila: What was the actual learning process like? You mentioned getting better numbers, so was it basically you going into the bullpen and throwing in front of a Rapsodo?
Hearn: “It was. Our pitching coach, Sags [Brendan Sagara], knows a bunch of grips, so we tried some out. This was actually on flat ground. It was raining. It was the day our game in Minnesota got pushed back, and I was out there throwing in wet rain. And it was moving a lot. The next day, I went out on a mound before the game and threw it. I just needed to get comfortable with it and, from there, see how hitters are reacting to it.”
Laurila: The movement profile is markedly different from your old two-seamer.
Hearn: “Yes. This one is getting more vertical along with horizontal movement. My sinker is averaging anywhere from 15 to 16 inches, and I’ve had as much as 20.”
Laurila: Did you pick it up pretty quickly?
Hearn: “I did, actually. And the more I threw it in games and started getting a feel for it, the better it got. Like I said, the first time I threw it was in Seattle. That was my first time trying to figure out how to use it. It was running a lot.”
Laurila: Blue Jays lefty Tayler Saucedo told me recently that when he was first learning his one-seam sinker, it actually moved too much.
Hearn: “There is such a thing. I know it’s true. I have times where if I’m trying to start it at a certain point, it will run too much. I’ve kind of honed that in by now, but yeah, it’s definitely one of the things where … I mean, the first two or three games, it was running a lot. I was trying to throw it down the middle, and it was covering… the plate is what, 17–18 inches? It was basically running almost equivalent the size of home plate.
“I’ve gotten better at it now, to where I’m back-dooring it to lefties and front-dooring it to righties. I’m not just throwing it down the middle and letting it run. I’ve actually been learning how to add and subtract. Depending on how many [inches] I want, I might move my fingers apart a little bit more.”
Laurila: Your changeup also gets sink and run. How much more do you need to develop that particular pitch?
Hearn: “I was predominantly a fastball-changeup guy coming up, so it’s not really a pitch I need to refine more. I’ve just got to throw it more now I’m facing guys more. The only reason I didn’t throw it much out of the ‘pen is that I was coming in for one or two innings. Now that I’m getting lengthened out and whatnot — facing guys two or three times — I need it. Honestly, it’s my best pitch. I just took more time off it last year to focus on my slider — so it’s definitely something you’ll start seeing more. That, and I’ll obviously be throwing the sinker.”
Laurila: Do you see your new sinker as a career-changing pitch?
Hearn: “100%. I think I could have stayed in the big leagues with just fastball-slider-changeup, but I wanted another pitch … and honestly, there’s the way the game is going now. Guys are starting to make adjustments to the high fastball, and with my velocity being 94, 96–97 mph, a sinker is hard to hit.” (David Laurila - August 25, 2021)
Sept 7, 2021: Taylor frequently talks with mental skills coach Mike Franco. Hearn’s conversations are a little different than the normal ones, though.
“You really want to know?” Hearn said when asked by reporters what Franco has done to help his development this season. “We’ve just been talking basketball. “Me and Mike have this thing where I’m a pretty big quote guy. So probably once a day, once every other day, we give each other types of quotes and everything. That type of stuff helps you out mentally. I never really try to get too far ahead and try to think too much. But honestly, that's what we talk about. Just like Mavericks basketball, then giving each other quotes, keeping it loose and relaxed.”
Whatever Hearn’s been doing on the mental side, it’s been working on the physical side. Hearn typically throws four pitches: a four-seam fastball, a sinker, a slider and a changeup. The slider got a recent makeover.
Co-pitching coach Brendan Sagara worked with Hearn to tweak the grip on his slider to create a certain shape and get a different type of movement out of the hand. Hearn first threw his new slider in an Aug. 29 win over the Astros, and he has all but replaced the original slider at this point.
“It's been really good for him,” co-pitching coach Doug Mathis said. “It's really consistent, the movement is really good, and it's got more depth than he's ever had. He’s still got the horizontal, but it's got way more depth to it and it's consistent. His old slider was probably too much of a cutter and inconsistent with the shape of it. That's a lot of credit to Sagara to see it and have that in his back pocket for Taylor.” (K Landry - MLB.com - Sept 7, 2021)
2021 Season stats: Starts: 11 MLB Record: 6-5 IP: 104.1 ERA: 4.66
In July 2018, Hearn was traded by the Pirates along with Sherten Apostel, in exchange for Keone Kela. He had a good enough year whereby he may have solidified his spot in the 2022 rotation.
Hearn was exceptional in July and August, then seemed to fatigue in September. Hearn needs to continue to build up strength through the winter so that he can withstand an entire season in the Rangers rotation. (Chris Giles - Oct. 22, 2021)
- 2022 Season: Hearn had two seasons in one in 2022. He began the year as a starter but truly never got comfortable. His command and pitch count prevented him from getting deeper into games, and by mid-June he was 4-5 with a 6.25 ERA. The Rangers sent him to Triple-A Round Rock and, aside from being an opener a few times in late June and early July, Hearn didn’t start.
In August, with some members of the bullpen starting to wane, Hearn came in and gave the group a jolt of energy. Former manager Chris Woodward wanted Hearn to focus less on trying to manage a pitch count and more on unleashing his live fastball for as long as he could.
It worked. In his final 15 games as a reliever Hearn went 2-2, recorded his first career save and dropped his ERA to 4.25, nearly two points below his ERA as a starter. Batters hit .212 against him as a reliever, a steep drop from the .300 average as a starter. (MATTHEW POSTINS
JAN 30, 2023)
April 14, 2016: Hearn was on the D.L. with a fractured foot. The injury occurred on a play at first base as he retired the first batter of the game in his second start of the season.
July-August 2017: Hearn missed the final two months of the minor league season with a strained left oblique.
- April 26-Nov 4, 2019: Taylor was on the IL with left elbow tightness.