Top Pirates Minor League Pitching Performances: Week Ending 8/19

Below are the top ten pitching Game Scores* in the Pittsburgh Pirates’ farm system from the last week. The rankings include every pitcher who made a start for a Pirates’ minor league affiliate, not including DSL teams, and with no limitations on whether the starting pitcher has prospect eligibility.

*Game Score is a stat created by Bill James used to determine how good a pitcher’s outing really was. The formula for game score is simple: Start with 50 points, add one point for every out recorded, add two for each inning completed after the fourth, add one point for each strikeout. Subtract two points for each hit, four points for each earned run, two points for each unearned run and one point for each walk. There tends to be an advantage for pitchers who can go longer in the game, as they have more time to pile up strikeouts, while getting bonus points for extra innings beyond the fourth frame.

Pitcher Team Date IP H R ER BB K Game Score
Kyle Kaminska Bradenton 8/17 6.0 0 0 0 1 5 79
Gerrit Cole Altoona 8/16 6.0 3 2 1 0 9 69
Rick VandenHurk Indianapolis 8/16 8.0 7 1 1 0 5 69
Nick Kingham West Virginia 8/19 6.0 2 1 1 0 3 67
Tyler Glasnow GCL 8/18 4.0 0 0 0 2 6 66
Kris Johnson Altoona 8/15 6.0 5 1 1 1 6 63
Jeff Locke Indianapolis 8/19 6.0 4 2 2 1 5 60
Adrian Sampson State College 8/17 4.2 3 1 0 2 4 59.35
Robby Rowland West Virginia 8/16 6.0 5 2 1 0 3 59
Justin Wilson Indianapolis 8/15 6.0 5 2 2 1 4 57
Tyler Waldron Altoona 8/17 5.0 4 1 1 2 4 57

Kyle Kaminska made his first start in the organization, after being acquired as the second piece in the Gaby Sanchez/Gorkys Hernandez trade. Kaminska didn’t disappoint, throwing six no-hit innings. Prior to the start, the 6′ 4″, 180 pound right hander made three appearances in Altoona, combining for three earned runs on seven hits in six innings, with a 7:0 K/BB ratio. Kaminska, who turns 24 in the off-season, reached as high as Triple-A with Miami, but struggled at the level. He put up a 5.11 ERA in 49.1 innings in Double-A as a reliever with Miami, along with a 42:9 K/BB ratio.

Gerrit Cole had his best start of the year with Altoona.

Gerrit Cole made the top ten for the third straight week, and had his best start with Altoona. Cole struck out a career high nine batters. In his last four starts, Cole has given up three earned runs in 22 innings, with a 26:6 K/BB ratio. He got off to a slow start in Bradenton, before going on a hot streak after his first five or six starts. It looks like the same might be happening in Altoona.

Rick VandenHurk continues to put up impressive numbers in Triple-A. VandenHurk has a 3.26 ERA in 105 innings this year, along with a 94:32 K/BB ratio. In three starts this month he has a 2.66 ERA in 20.1 innings, with a 19:4 K/BB ratio. He could be an option for the Pirates when rosters expand in September.

Nick Kingham was one of our top ten prospects coming in to the year, but has had a few rough patches this season. Lately he’s been on a hot streak, with a 1.49 ERA in 36.1 innings over his last seven starts, including a 29:7 K/BB ratio. He’s got a great three pitch mix, and touches 95 MPH with his fastball.

For the second straight week, Tyler Glasnow pitched four no-hit innings. The 6′ 7″, 195 pound pitcher has been dominating the Gulf Coast League, with a 1.87 ERA in 33.2 innings, along with a 39:12 K/BB ratio. In his last two starts he has combined for eight no-hit innings, with an 11:2 K/BB ratio. He’s only given up one earned run in 25 innings over his last seven starts. He drew consideration for the updated top 20 prospects, and will probably make the list next year due to his numbers, but also his stuff, which includes a 91-93 MPH fastball. Glasnow turns 19 on Thursday.

Jeff Locke returned to Triple-A and made another impressive start. Locke was pitching well in the majors, so hopefully the decision to send him back down to start will lead to some starts down the stretch for the Pirates. Another potential major league option, Justin Wilson, had a strong follow-up to last week’s no-hitter. Wilson could be an option to be called up to the majors today, and several sites have him listed as the probable starter, although that’s not confirmed.

One of the biggest turnarounds this year has been the success from Robby Rowland. The Pirates acquired Rowland from the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for 2011 Rule 5 pick Brett Lorin. Last year with Arizona he had an 8.07 ERA in 68 innings, along with a 52:17 K/BB ratio. This year, at a higher level, he has a 3.31 ERA in 89.2 innings, with a 46:21 K/BB ratio.


Short-Season Leagues

The players in the short-season leagues are usually limited. Pitchers in the GCL usually don’t go beyond three innings, while pitchers in State College are usually between four and five innings. Because of the limited innings, these players don’t post as high of Game Scores as players in the upper levels who can pitch beyond the fifth inning. Here were the top five from the short-season leagues over the last week.

Pitcher Team Date IP H R ER BB K Game Score
Tyler Glasnow GCL 8/18 4.0 0 0 0 2 6 66
Adrian Sampson State College 8/17 4.2 3 1 0 2 4 59.35
Joely Rodriguez State College 8/16 5.0 6 2 2 0 2 49
Colten Brewer GCL 8/15 2.1 3 0 0 1 1 47.65
Jon Sandfort GCL 8/16 2.1 1 1 1 2 1 46.65

Once again, Glasnow is on the top of the list. He’s joined by Adrian Sampson, who also made the overall top ten. Sampson was taken in the fifth round of the 2012 draft. So far in State College he has a 2.43 ERA in 33.1 innings, with a 36:11 K/BB ratio. He’s one of the few pitchers at State College with a strikeout per inning. The new draft signing process seems to have worked well in speeding up signings and getting players in to the pros. Because of his innings this year, Sampson will probably move on to West Virginia next year, which will be the same move for a lot of the 2011 draft picks.

Due to the NYPL All-Star Game, this week didn’t have a lot of performers to begin with, so it ran short of top performers. Only two pitchers this week put up game scores above 50, which is the starting number. It should be noted that Axel Diaz threw three innings in relief during an appearance in the GCL, and put up a game score of 59. However, only starters are considered for this article.


The Bottom Five

The following were the worst game scores by a starter in the Pirates’ minor league system over the last week.

Pitcher Team Date IP H R ER BB K Game Score
Tyler Waldron Altoona 8/14 1.1 5 5 5 1 0 17.65
Brandon Cumpton Altoona 8/18 5.0 11 6 6 2 3 22
Kenn Kasparek Bradenton 8/19 3.2 9 6 6 1 5 22.35
Zack Von Rosenberg West Virginia 8/13 3.1 5 5 5 3 1 26.65
Jason Creasy State College 8/15 1.2 4 5 1 3 1 28.35

For the second straight week, Brandon Cumpton and Jason Creasy ended up on the bottom five list. Cumpton got off to a great start in Altoona, but has been struggling lately. In his last four starts he has given up 18 earned runs in 16.2 innings, including his second outing in two weeks with six earned runs in a start. Zack Von Rosenberg had another bad start, but rebounded later in the week for a better outing, giving up one earned run in five innings.

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Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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