Top 10 Pitchers: Glasnow Leads Amazing Week; Heredia Might Be Turning Things Around

Below are the pitching Game Scores* in the Pittsburgh Pirates’ farm system from the last week. The top ten scores are highlighted in the write-up below. The rankings include every pitcher who made a start for a Pirates’ minor league affiliate, 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.

In terms of pitching game scores, anything that scores a 65 or better is considered a “gem”. The Pirates farm system had 13 “gems” this week. Normally a gem gets you one of the top scores in the system. You needed a game score of 60 or better just to get in the top 20 this week. Because of that, we’re expanding this week’s writeup to 13 pitchers, to highlight all of the gems. Here are the top performers.

1. Tyler Glasnow – Glasnow was the top pitcher this week, making this list twice with two gems. His best start came on Sunday, when he threw seven shutout innings, allowing two hits, one walk, and striking out eight. I wrote about that start in Sunday’s Prospect Watch. For those of you wondering when Glasnow will be promoted, I also wrote about that, noting that Glasnow feels that he will remain in Bradenton the rest of the season. Finally, I asked this week if Glasnow is now the top prospect in the system. My thoughts right now: yes.

2. Tom Harlan – Harlan pitched well in the Bradenton bullpen this year, putting up a 2.49 ERA in 50.2 innings in long-relief. He moved up to Altoona mid-season, and has been pitching well as a starter. He has a 2.93 ERA in 46 innings, with a 23:11 K/BB ratio. That includes this week’s start, when he threw seven shutout innings. I don’t see Harlan as a starter in the long-term, but he’s put up great numbers at every level, and could be a guy who reaches the majors as a bullpen option.

3. Luis Heredia – Over the last few years, West Virginia has seen a lot of pitchers struggle during the first half of the season, only to see things come together in the second half. That could be happening with Heredia. He had two strong starts last week. The best one saw him throw seven shutout innings, giving up three hits, two walks, and striking out five. The second outing saw one earned run on nine hits and a walk in five innings, with three strikeouts. Heredia has a 1.50 ERA in 24 innings this month, with just six walks. The walks have been an issue for him this year, although he’s cutting down on that issue with a 2.2 BB/9 in 41.1 innings over his last seven starts. He has a 3.05 ERA during that span. Heredia still needs to improve his strikeouts, which will only come if he finds a breaking pitch that works for him. The drop in his walk rate is a good start for him to revive his prospect status.

4. Tyler Eppler – Eppler has been a regular on this weekly list this year, and has been one of the best performers in the middle rounds of the 2014 draft. He has a 2.70 ERA in 56.2 innings in Jamestown this year, with a 40:10 K/BB ratio. This week he threw six shutout innings, with three hits, no walks, and five strikeouts. I liked Eppler when he was drafted in the sixth round because he was a tall, big framed pitcher who could hit 95 MPH. I wouldn’t be surprised if he follows the Adrian Sampson/Chad Kuhl route and goes directly to Bradenton next year, skipping over Low-A after posting strong numbers in short-season ball after the draft.

5t. Nick Kingham – Kingham hit a rough patch in Indianapolis last month, but looks like he could be making his way out of that. He gave up one run on three hits and four walks in seven innings last week, striking out six in the process. He followed that up with two runs on four hits and two walks in eight innings last night, which will probably put him in the top ten again next week. Kingham doesn’t look like he’ll be an option for the Pirates down the stretch, but he should be up in the rotation next year in the first half of the season.

5t. Trey Supak – Supak has struggled for most of his pro debut, but had a great outing last week, throwing five shutout innings. He gave up just one hit, no walks, and struck out four in the process. The Pirates drafted Supak with their competitive balance pick in the second round, after taking Mitch Keller a few picks earlier. Based on what I’ve seen, Keller looks more like a first rounder who is more polished out of high school. Supak looks more like your typical mid-round projectable pitcher. There is a lot of upside here, but he’s very raw, which isn’t going to lead to the best numbers right now.

5t. Hector Garcia – Garcia received an aggressive push, going right from the DSL to Bristol at the age of 18. He has responded well, putting up a 3.83 ERA in 40 innings, with a 40:15 K/BB ratio. That includes his start last week, when he pitched five shutout innings, giving up two hits, no walks, and striking out six. I’m skeptical about a lot of lefties who have success in the lower levels, although I like Garcia a bit more due to the fact that he can get his fastball up to 92 MPH.

8. Tyler Glasnow – Glasnow’s second gem of the week saw him give up one run on four hits and three walks in 6.1 innings, with 10 strikeouts.

9. Dario Agrazal – I wrote last week about how Agrazal has been impressive. He continued that run with five shutout innings, giving up one hit, no walks, and striking out three. He’s got a 2.91 ERA in 46.1 innings this year, along with a 30:4 K/BB ratio. Because of his age (turns 20 this off-season), control, and success this year, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him get a push to West Virginia next season.

10t. Buddy Borden – Also in last week’s article, I wrote about how Buddy Borden is breaking out. He continued that by throwing five shutout innings, giving up three hits, two walks, and striking out eight. Borden has a 3.03 ERA in 119 innings this year, with a 111:48 K/BB ratio. He’s been on fire in August, giving up one run in 18 innings over three starts, with a 22:4 K/BB ratio. It will be interesting to see if Borden gets promoted to Bradenton at the end of the year for their playoff run. He will definitely be in Bradenton next year, and could see a trip to Altoona in the second half if all goes well.

10t. Frank Duncan – Duncan is a college senior drafted in the 13th round this year. He has put up impressive numbers, with a 3.22 ERA in 50.1 innings in Jamestown, along with a 38:9 K/BB ratio. This week he gave up one run on five hits in six innings, with nine strikeouts. That was easily his best start of the year, and set a season-high for him in strikeouts.

10t. Gerardo Navarro – Navarro doesn’t have the most impressive stuff, but gets the job done in the lower levels. He threw five shutout innings this week, giving up one hit, no walks, and striking out two. Due to his lack of a strong fastball, and lack of a strikeout pitch, I don’t see him moving up through the system as a starting pitching prospect.

13. Montana DuRapau – DuRapau is a college senior who was taken in the 32nd round this year. Like Duncan, he has also seen a lot of success with Jamestown, posting a 2.54 ERA in 46 innings, along with a 38:6 K/BB ratio. He threw five shutout innings this week, giving up three hits, no walks, and striking out five. It’s hard to say where these two will end up next year. There might not be a spot for both of them in the Bradenton rotation. They could start in West Virginia, then move up mid-season if a spot opens in Bradenton. They could also move to long-relief, although with their numbers, you’d want to give them a chance in the rotation first.

Tim Williams

Author: 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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  • freddylang

    People can hang their pitchforks back up on the wall for awhile. Heredia is pitching a lot better. It was not a spectacular year but he improved his walk rate, gained another year of maturity (Hopefully), and will get in the neighborhood of 100Ip in a season for the first time. He will be ready to be turned loose a little next year finally. High A and not turning 21 until next August. If he can get it rolling early for once next year he will not be far behind where Glasnow is right now. (Minus the total devastation that Glasnow has spread across the FSL)

    • Leefoo Rug Bug

      I’ll keep mine handy thank you…..mainly because of this comment:


      Heredia still needs to improve his strikeouts, which will only come if he finds a breaking pitch that works for him

      IF he finds a strikeout pitch? Well, gee…..that could describe just about ANY MiLB pitcher!

      • Doug

        Nick Kingham is a low strikeout guy. Are you ready to throw your pitchfork at him? People don’t need to strikeout a batter an inning to be successful.

        • freddylang

          Well, you pretty much have to have two pitches to be a mlb pitcher…unless you have a really special fastball and command, then you can be only a reliever.

      • freddylang

        One thing about Heredia is they have tinkered with his breaking pitch a lot…and early on it got good reviews from scouts…mainly when he first signed. I am paraphrasing from memory but it was a “Big, loopy curve with a lot of break” They worked on him throwing it harder with obvious not great results so far. I don’t know that much about how the Change is coming along but I thought I heard he had some feel for it. The fact that he had what scouts described as a good curve at 16 hopefully bodes well. With his size and arm strength I wish he would just throw a slider…but if he doesn’t have the feel for it, hopefully something else will work.