Jason Parks of Baseball Prospectus put up a Monday Morning Ten Pack today with ten prospects who exceeded Baseball Prospectus expectations this year. The third prospect mentioned on the list was Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitching prospect Tyler Glasnow, who has been getting a lot of national attention lately. Glasnow finished his first full season in West Virginia with a 2.18 ERA and 164 strikeouts in 111 innings of work.
Parks mentioned that BP had Glasnow ranked eighth coming into the year, which was considered extreme at the time. That’s also where Glasnow ranked in the pre-season Pirates Prospects rankings, and it sounds like he was ranked that high by BP for a lot of the same reasons — a velocity spike at the end of the 2012 season that saw him hitting 96, some promise with his curveball, and in our case the big frame and the steep downward plane on his fastball.
Glasnow’s stock has been up at the end of the season, to the point where he’s pretty much a consensus top 50 prospect, and a candidate to jump into the top 25. Parks said that you can make a case for Glasnow having the best season of any pitching prospect in the minors. His season was enough for us to name him the Pirates Prospects Minor League Pitcher of the Year.
With all of the post-season talk about Glasnow, there are going to be a lot of discussions about whether he ranks as the top prospect in the system. My opinion is that Glasnow could eventually be the best player in the system, but he’s not there right now. You couldn’t ask for more from his 2013 season, and if you were asking for the numbers he actually put up, you were just being greedy. While those numbers were amazing, they also came in low-A. Jameson Taillon put up some great numbers in Double-A when you consider that his overall line was inflated by one bad start. Gregory Polanco showed the ability to hit Double-A pitching, and started crushing that level at the end of the year. The point is that those guys are having success in Double-A, while Glasnow is having his amazing year in low-A. You can get away with a lot more in low-A.
That said, I’ve seen Glasnow this year, and I saw Jameson Taillon at the same age when he was in West Virginia. Glasnow does a better job of throwing downhill, while Taillon had issues elevating the fastball and flattening it out at that level. They both flashed a potential plus breaking ball, but both had consistency problems with the pitch. They both were learning how to develop a changeup, and Taillon didn’t make progress with the pitch until the following season in high-A. I’d say Glasnow is ahead of Taillon in terms of pitching, rather than throwing, although Glasnow still has some work to do with his command and cutting down on the walks. I think Glasnow is ahead of where Taillon was at the same level, but Taillon is ahead of Glasnow right now. Next year will be all about seeing if Glasnow can show the same progression Taillon showed with his changeup, all while learning how to pitch to high-A and possibly Double-A hitters.