Tyler Glasnow struck out 36% of the batters he faced in 2013. (Photo Credit: Tom Bragg)

Pirates Prospects 2013 Minor League Pitcher of the Year

Tyler Glasnow is the Pirates Prospects 2013 Minor League Pitcher of the Year. (Photo Credit: Tom Bragg)

Tyler Glasnow is the Pirates Prospects 2013 Minor League Pitcher of the Year. (Photo Credit: Tom Bragg)

The Pittsburgh Pirates have placed a large focus on pitching in recent years, either through the draft, international markets, or in the free agent bargain bin. For that reason, you’d expect a lot of competition each year for the top performing pitcher in the system. There were a lot of strong candidates this year. Kris Johnson put up a 2.39 ERA in 135.2 innings of work, and was the Pirates Prospects Pitcher of the Month in both June and July. Nick Kingham combined for a 2.89 ERA in 143.1 innings between High-A and Double-A, with a 144:44 K/BB ratio. Joely Rodriguez posted a 2.70 ERA in 140 innings between two levels of A-ball, with a 101:39 K/BB ratio.

In previous years, any of those guys would have been the top pitching option. This year there was another pitcher who went above and beyond everyone else.

Tyler Glasnow dominated the competition in West Virginia, posting a 2.18 ERA in 111.1 innings of work. Even more impressive was the fact that he put up 164 strikeouts in that time. Glasnow’s ERA was the best in the system among all pitchers with 80+ innings. He also had the most strikeouts in the system. For his overall dominance this year, Tyler Glasnow is the Pirates Prospects 2013 Minor League Pitcher of the Year.

Glasnow didn’t just dominate the Pirates system. His numbers were some of the best in baseball. He ranked first overall in the South Atlantic League in strikeouts. Second place had 20 fewer strikeouts and 31 more innings, while also being two years older than Glasnow. His 13.3 K/9 ratio ranked second in the league to Rafael De Paula, who had a 13.4 K/9 in 64.1 innings as a 22-year-old. Glasnow also ranked high in the SAL in hits per nine (3rd place, 4.4), ERA (13th place, 2.18), and WHIP (17th, 1.033). On the flip side, he had control issues, and his 61 walks were tied for sixth most in the league. In all of minor league baseball, Glasnow ranked 4th in strikeouts. His 13.3 K/9 was the best among qualified pitchers in all of minor league baseball.

Glasnow had a banner year in the Pirates system with his strikeout totals. His 164 strikeouts were the most in the system since Tom Gorzelanny struck out 167 in 148.2 innings in 2004. Gorzelanny did that between low-A and high-A at the age of 21, which is two years older than Glasnow. No Pirates starter has put up a 13.3 K/9 ratio since 1969. Prior to that, strikeout numbers weren’t available in the lower levels on Baseball Reference. From 1969-2013, only three other pitchers with 40+ innings have posted a 13.3 K/9 ratio or better:

2003 – Henry Owens: 13.5 K/9, 48.2 IP

2010 – Diego Moreno: 13.5 K/9, 46 IP

2013: Jhondaniel Medina: 13.3 K/9, 46 IP

The only close competition for Glasnow this year was Kris Johnson. However, Glasnow had a lower ERA, WHIP, and many more strikeouts. Johnson’s advantage was that the had more innings at a higher level. However, he is also old for his level and has been there before, while Glasnow is young for his level, and in his first time in A-ball. Glasnow should move to Bradenton to start the 2014 season, and could make it to Double-A by the end of the season, similar to the path that guys like Gerrit Cole, Jameson Taillon, and Nick Kingham have taken in the last few years.

Previous Pirates Prospects Minor League Pitchers of the Year

2012 – Jeff Locke

2011 – Kyle McPherson

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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.

Pirates Prospects 2013 Minor League Player of the Year

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  • BuccosFanStuckinMD

    IMHO, the best pitching prospect in the Pirates system, with Kingham second, Taillon third.

    • Lee Young

      I’m with you on that ranking.


  • CalipariFan506

    I still think Taillon is the best of the bunch. But this is a good argument to have.

  • Lee Young

    Tim….no mention of Taillon at all? You would’ve thought that our number one pitching prospect would’ve had a ‘number one’ type of year? Or at least, be in the conversation? Or, a I being too harsh?


    • ImmortalStyle

      Yes, you are being too harsh.

      We get it, you dont like Taillon.

      I believe you once made the comment that you havent seen much in Cole that would lead you to believe he was going to be an ace.

      Honestly, if you cant see anything in a kid that is built with a frame seemingly designed by the baseball gods, that effortlessly throws a real true 80 fastball like hes playing catch in the backyard, flashes a nasty slider with wipe out potential that can sit at the speed of an above average major league fastball, and shows the ability to have an above average curve and change up and probably any other pitch he would decide hed like to throw, with a bulldog mentality on top of the prodigy like physical attributes, Im not sure you can give a fair assessment on any pitcher.

      Taillon is a beast.

      He has all the tools.

      Oh, and for the record, no one with half a clue is taking Kingham over Taillon despite Kinghams substantial talents.

      Taillon has ace potential.

      His upside is massive.

      • BuccosFanStuckinMD

        I agree Taillon has great potential – but it has not translated consistently into his actual performance. Potential is nice, natural talent is nice – but, results are what matter. Assuming this “award” is based on actual results, it is not even close – Glasnow was by far #1. Kingham was #2. I wonder what your opinions would be if Kingham was the former first round pick, and not Taillon?

        • buster09

          Results in the Minors is NOT what matters. What matters in Minor League baseball is that a pitcher refines the command and other pitches such as a change up,that will make them successful in Pittsburgh. NOT Altoona or Indianapolis.

      • Kevin Anstrom

        Hey wait I had Kingham over Taillon and Glasnow :)

        BTW did anyone notice Jhondaniel Medina and Zach Thornton were statistically among the best in the Pirates system? Two more excellent transactions for the 2013 MLB Organization of the Year!

    • smurph

      I have to agree that rating Kingham ahead of Taillon is a mistake. I would however, at this point rate Glasnow as their #1 pitching prospect.

    • buster09

      Lee,aren’t you the same guy who has not done much but slag Cole all the way through AA and AAA ? I thought so. Maybe backing off Taillon for the time being would be the smart thing for you to do right now till you see what he does or doesn’t do in Pittsburgh ( ? )

  • nikknice

    If everything goes as planned, in 2-3 years could the bucs have a rotation of cole, taillon, kingham and glasnow? That’s a powerful bunch of arms.

    • Nuke Laloosh

      If everything goes as planned, in 2-3 years could the bucs have a rotation of cole, taillon, kingham and glasnow? That’s a powerful bunch of arms.

      That’s a beautiful thought!

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