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Tyler Glasnow is Somehow Repeating His 2013 Success at a Higher Level

Over the weekend, I had an article on Baseball America about the developments Tyler Glasnow was working on this season, and pointing out how dominant he has been in his time in Bradenton. Glasnow started yesterday for the Marauders, and pitched another gem. He threw seven innings for the first time in his career, giving up one run on one hit, with two walks and six strikeouts. I didn’t go to the game expecting to write about Glasnow again this soon, but I also felt the need to comment on that start by Glasnow, which might have been his best of the year.

The outing by the tall right-hander was just a continuation of the dominance we’ve seen in the last month. In the fourth inning he gave up a run, which was the first run he had given up in over a month. He gave up just one hit, extending a streak of five straight games where he had given up three or fewer hits. He only walked two batters, giving him two walks each in five of his last six starts and showing improved command. The start was a scary sign of what is to come, at least for opposing hitters. Not only is Glasnow un-hittable, but he’s also starting to learn how to pitch and learning some control.

Tyler Glasnow went seven innings for the first time in his career yesterday.

Tyler Glasnow went seven innings for the first time in his career yesterday.

Glasnow was at 84 pitches through six innings, and it looked like his day would be over. Then, he went back out for the seventh inning, which was the first time in his career he had pitched past the sixth frame. Bradenton pitching coach Justin Meccage said that Glasnow was scheduled to go seven innings or 100 pitches today. He went exactly seven innings and 100 pitches.

“He’s progressed up through the six inning progression that we have,” Meccage said. “We felt that he was doing a nice job, so we wanted to make sure he got up in the seventh. We didn’t know if he was going to finish the seventh, but we felt like it was important for him to get up in the seventh.”

Glasnow did have some problems in the middle innings. He walked two batters in a row to start the fourth inning, leading to his only run of the outing.

“Today the first two innings felt really good, and then the third inning, not like it was bad. Fastball command got up in the zone. I got, in the fourth inning, a little mental,” Glasnow said of his outing. “Instead of going up there and thinking nothing, I kind of wanted to revert back to ‘what am I doing wrong?’ And then after that just kind of realizing that I had to let it go, and then everything just fell into place better.”

In the past, the fourth inning would have been the time when things might have fallen apart for Glasnow. Instead, he was able to rebound and pitch three more strong innings. Meccage has been spending a lot of time with Glasnow this year working on routines, both pre-game and bullpen routines. They’ve also spent time working on pitch routines, allowing Glasnow to have a consistent mentality on the mound.

“I think you’re starting to see that,” Meccage said of the results of Glasnow’s work on routines. “You’re starting to see things not snowball a little bit like it used to. He just shuts it down. In the fourth, I thought some things were going to start speeding up. He walked the first two guys, and then he got it together and finished on a good note. That’s where we feel he needs to go is that mentality, and consistency. It’s exciting to see him grow.”

The growth from Glasnow can be seen by last night’s catcher, Jacob Stallings. Early in the season, Stallings would just set up down the middle and have Glasnow throw, allowing the movement on his fastball to determine where it would end up. Now, Stallings sets up inside and outside on a regular basis, and Glasnow is able to hit his spots.

“I remember catching him the first time in Spring Training, and he was kind of all over the place,” Stallings said. “Just how much he’s grown mentally. He just has so much better control of his emotions now. The stuff has always been there, but now he can locate a little better because his mind is a little clearer. Just to see how much he’s grown is pretty impressive.”

Glasnow has also been working on a slide-step to home, which has gotten better lately. Early in the season I watched Glasnow give up six stolen bases in six attempts in one game with Stallings behind the plate. That was all on Glasnow’s slow delivery to the plate, as Stallings has a strong arm and is good at catching runners. Yesterday, Glasnow and Stallings combined for a caught stealing in the only attempt off the pitcher. Even more impressive was that the caught stealing came off a slower curveball.

“That’s one of the best things he’s gotten better at,” Stallings said of his ability to hold the running game. “Early in the year, we didn’t have a chance to throw anybody out, because he was just slow to home. I think he’s gotten more confidence, and he’s grown a lot mentally. He’s been working on the quick step in his bullpens, and he’s been able to bring it into the game. His fastball gets there so fast, that if he’s just pretty quick to home, I have a good shot. He’s gotten really good at it.”

WATCH: Video of Glasnow’s sixth inning yesterday, which included the caught stealing.

Glasnow has been working this season on his fastball command, and developing the changeup. He’s made some nice strides with each pitch, and is now to the point where he’s comfortable throwing the changeup. He told me about how he wouldn’t want to throw the pitch when it was called last year. That’s not the case anymore.

“I like going out there more and being able to throw different pitches,” Glasnow said. “I feel like before, when I threw a fastball and that just wasn’t working, I really didn’t have anything else to go to. The more I throw it now, and the confidence I have in the changeup to throw it now, is a lot better than it was last year. If the fastball isn’t working, I have two other pitches to go to.”

One change that is starting to happen is that Glasnow is starting to learn how to pitch. He has moved beyond the phase in his development where he’s only focusing on improvements with one or two pitches. He has started mixing his curveball into the mix a bit more in his last few starts, and is now focusing on when to throw his pitches in different situations.

“I think he’s in a good spot mentally, much better than he was at the beginning of the season,” Meccage said. “And physically I think things are starting to come around a little bit. Now we’re getting to the point where we’re talking a little more about pitching. Counts and swings and stuff like that. That’s why you’re starting to see, second time through, some early count breaking balls and early count changeups. We like where he’s going.”

Glasnow still has times where his control escapes him, as seen in the fourth inning last night. That might be an issue for him throughout his career, although maybe not in such a large-scale like we’ve seen at times in the lower levels. Meccage believes that he could one day see improvements in this area.

“I think when it’s all said and done, when his career is at the peak, he’s going to be able to command his fastball a little bit better,” Meccage said. “He’s going to be able to get away with things because of the velocity and the stuff. So the command isn’t necessarily going to be pin-point all the time. I think that’s something we’re going to strive for, is the command of that fastball.”

As I pointed out last week, the Pirates usually give pitchers in High-A about 70 innings, or longer if they’ve struggled. Glasnow hasn’t really struggled much from a statistical standpoint, and he is starting to make some nice strides from a development standpoint. Including four innings during a suspended game, he has 59.2 innings in Bradenton this year. If you add in that suspended game, Glasnow has an 0.84 ERA in 42.2 innings since mid-May, with an 11.2 K/9 and a 3.6 BB/9 ratio.

To get an idea of how good Glasnow has been lately, let’s look at his numbers this year, and compare them to his best stretch last year in West Virginia (June 9th through the end of the season). Let’s also consider that he has been playing at a higher level, and has been working mostly without his curveball this year as he develops the fastball command and changeup.

2014

2013

IP

42.2

63.2

ERA

0.84

1.41

K/9

11.2

13.0

BB/9

3.6

4.1

BAA

.144

.155

The strikeouts are down, although still at a ridiculous pace for a starting pitcher. The walks are also down, which is more important. He still doesn’t give up hits. It will be interesting to see if these trends continue when Glasnow is in the upper levels. Based on his numbers and his current innings count in High-A, we may only be a few weeks away from finding out how Glasnow will fare against Double-A hitters.

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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 AccuScore.com, 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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  • deacs

    Man is he fun to follow. Gut feeling – still June 2016 debut or is there any shot he starts at AAA next year and gets the call next July?

    • http://www.facebook.com/andy.prough.3 Andy Prough

      You’d have to think he would at least have a shot at a September call-up next year. These numbers are really impressive. I guess his second half this year in AA is going to tell us where he finally projects.

  • Lee Young

    Can’t wait to see him in Altoona!

  • SteveW

    Here’s an interesting comparison. Compare Glasnow’s numbers as shown above to Pitcher X, who is more than two years older and pitching at the same level as Glasnow.

    Pitcher X has an ERA of 10.48 in 22 IP, with a WHIP of 2.04 and a batting average against of .394. How much would you pay for this pitcher?

    Pitcher X, btw, is Mark Appel. Also, his numbers in 2013 in Low A were OK but far from great. He may turn out to be a very good pitcher but it shows what a crap shoot the draft is and how hard it is to project anything.

  • Spa City

    2014 BB% – 14.4. His 2014 BABIP – .213. He seems to be due for some regression. Fortunately he has room to regress and still be excellent at pitching. But he needs to stop walking 14% of the hitters he faces. That is terrible.

    • szielinski

      Why would his BABIP regress? If batters who face cannot make solid contact, then their hits will be those BIP that find holes and seams.

    • smurph

      3.6 walks/9 innings is high, but it is not terrible. Plenty of ML starters are at 3.6 or higher. He has a year and a half to get that below 3, which would be very acceptable for a strikeout pitcher.

  • Dom DiDominic

    Wow

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