The Spikes rallied to a 5-4 11th inning victory on a walk-off single by pinch-hitter Sammy Gonzalez earlier tonight against the Mahoning Valley Scrappers. 2011 5th round draft pick Tyler Glasnow made his State College debut tonight and impressed with four solid innings of work. He surrendered two runs, but both were unearned due to a throwing error by second baseman Dilson Herrera in the 4th inning. Left-hander Dalton Friend came in and struggled in the 5th, allowing two runs (one earned) on two hits, before settling down and allowing no runs in his remaining four innings of work. Offensively, the Spikes totaled nine hits, with the only multi-hit effort coming from left fielder D.J. Crumlich who went 2-4. Pinch-hitter Sammy Gonzalez knocked in Derek Trent, who doubled to start the 11th inning, for the walk-off victory.
Glasnow Effective in Debut
Tyler Glasnow made his State College debut after putting up a 2.10 ERA for the Gulf Coast League Pirates earlier this season, his first with the organization after signing for $600,000 in 2011 as a prep pitcher. At 6’ 7”, 195 pounds, the Pirates drafted him as a projectable potential starter with good downward plane and room to grow into his tall frame.
Glasnow did not disappoint tonight, pitching four innings, giving up two runs (none earned), four hits, and one walk while striking out four Scrappers. He threw 43 of his 63 pitches for strikes (67%). As anticipated, Glasnow featured his fastball tonight, a standard developmental strategy for young arms in the Pirates system. Coming into the season, his fastball was 90-93 MPH, but tonight he has sitting 93-94 touching 95 and 96 early in the outing when throwing his four-seam.
While the uptick in velocity is promising, I was most impressed by the movement and location of both his fastballs, particularly his two-seam fastball. This pitch was more in the 91-92 MPH range and had a late tailing run, moving away from right-handed batters. For the most part, he located the pitch well, with particular success on the outside corner to right-handed hitters. He also used the four-seam fastball effectively, throwing it both inside and outside for strikes. His command allowed him to work ahead in counts, which he did with 11 of the 17 batters he faced.
Glasnow was effective at throwing down in the zone tonight, demonstrated by his high ground ball rate. Of the 12 batted balls put in play, only 2 were hit in the air.
While Glasnow’s fastball was a good pitch tonight, he struggled with his curve, which pitching coach Justin Meccage labeled as potentially the best on the staff.
“His curveball can be a very good pitch. Tonight he was all juiced up and just choking it a little bit,” says Meccage. “I told [catcher] Stallings before the game, it might be the best curveball he sees all year.”
Tonight, Glasnow threw all but one curve in the dirt, missing quite badly some of the time. However, with a man on in the fourth and needing an out, the young righty threw his best curve of the night, a 78 MPH offering with good tilt and late break, to strike out right fielder Andrew Campbell.
“My curveball has gotten a lot better from what it was over this season. But today was just one of those days it wasn’t working,” says Glasnow. “I did get the feel back on a crucial count [in the 4th inning].”
Overall, I was impressed with Glasnow tonight, particularly his comfort with both of his fastballs. It is uncommon for pitchers in the lower minors to feature both fastballs, and Glasnow’s comfort throwing each in different counts is a positive sign. Also, Glasnow has shown great improvement through his first year of professional baseball, as noted by Meccage.
“He might be ahead of where we thought he’d be,” Meccage said. “If you ask me the biggest change from May until tonight, I’d say that he was convicted and confident in everything he threw, and that wasn’t the case in May.”
Glasnow just turned 19 in March and shows the potential to join the Pirates cadre of young, big, and high-upside starting pitching prospects. The fastball I saw tonight was already above-average and all reports are that the curveball is not far behind. As Glasnow continues to develop his repertoire and fill out his lanky frame, he should also move up prospect lists.
Friend Settles in After Rough First Inning
2012 12th round draft pick Dalton Friend relieved Glasnow and threw five innings, surrendering two runs (one earned) on four hits, walking one and striking out two. It was a rough initial inning for Friend, who could not locate his fastball and fell behind in the count frequently. With no feel for the fastball, he went to his curve, which was a little better including a three-curve strikeout of third baseman Jorge Martinez.
“In the first inning I was trying to locate too much. I throw my best when I just rear back and throw it,” said the young lefty.
After the rough start, Friend settled in and looked effective with an aggressive fastball sitting 92-93 MPH. Most impressive, he threw the pitch inside for strikes and began getting ahead in counts.
“He started out trying to locate and make perfect pitches. He’s very good when he’s aggressive and he locates when he’s aggressive, not when he tries to locate.” said Meccage. “After the first inning he did a nice job locating the fastball and pitching in.”
Although he did not throw the pitch much tonight (only once), Friend has successfully incorporated a change-up into his repertoire, a pitch he hadn’t thrown prior to this season. In addition, as the season has moved along, he has improved the downward angle on his fastball. Friend has room to improve and develop, but overall his 2012 campaign has shown some potential for him to matriculate threw the Pirates farm system.
**Pirates left fielder Starling Marte made his first rehab start tonight in State College. Marte, coming off an oblique injury, led off as DH and went 0 for 4 with 3 strikeouts. He reached base in the first inning on an error by third baseman Jorge Martinez. His next rehab start takes him to AAA Indianapolis.
**Kyle Haynes pitched two scoreless innings to get the win tonight, striking out two while allowing one hit. His 94 MPH fastball had good life, but as with previous outings, Haynes did not feature any strong secondary pitches.
**Dilson Herrera had a hit for the fifth straight game, but his defense hurt the Spikes tonight. He committed all three of the Spikes errors, each from errant throws.
**The play of the night was an impressive pick-off throw from catcher Jacob Stallings, gunning down Logan Vick at second base with two outs in the 5th inning. At the time, Dalton Friend was struggling through the frame, and Stallings defense provided a crucial out.
**Left fielder D.J. Crumlich improved his batting average to .296, going 2-4 and scoring a run.