Top 10 Pitchers: Walks or No Walks, Tyler Glasnow Continues to Dominate

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 four “gems” this week. Here are the top performers.

1. Rafael Perez - For the second week in a row, Perez is the top pitcher in the system. He’s not a prospect at all, at age 32 and with plenty of MLB experience. The question is whether he help the Pirates in the majors this year. The numbers from Perez have been great, but the stuff hasn’t matched the numbers. His fastball has been sitting in the low-to-mid 80s, and he’s been working mostly with off-speed stuff. That’s not an approach that would have a lot of success in the big leagues, and it’s not how Perez had success as a reliever in the past.

2. Tyler Glasnow - Two weeks ago I wrote that Glasnow had been seeing a big decline in his walks. Right after that article, Glasnow walked four batters in 5.2 innings in his next start, and followed that up with four walks in six innings this past week. He’s still dominating opponents, with a 1.28 ERA in 56.1 innings over his last ten starts, along with a 70:23 K/BB ratio. I’m surprised that Glasnow hasn’t been promoted to Altoona yet, although I’d imagine he’ll make it up by the end of the year for a few starts, only to spend most of the 2015 season at the Double-A level.

3. Cesilio Pimentel - Pimentel has been working as a piggyback starter, getting a lot of innings in relief. This week he threw five shutout innings in a relief appearance, giving up two hits and striking out four. He’s been posting good numbers this year out of the bullpen, with a 2.22 ERA in 24.1 innings, along with a 23:5 K/BB ratio. He only sits 88-91 MPH with the fastball, usually on the lower end of that scale, which limits his upside.

4. Felipe Gonzalez - Gonzalez owed two of the top starts in the system this week, with both ending up in the top five. The best outing came earlier in the week, when he pitched five shutout innings, allowing two hits, no walks, and striking out two…

5t. Felipe Gonzalez - The next start for Gonzalez saw him give up one run on three hits and two walks in six innings, with four strikeouts. He’s had good numbers this year in West Virginia, with a 2.48 ERA in 80 innings, along with a 74:20 K/BB ratio. Gonzalez has received time as a starter, and is getting back to that role recently, with three straight starts after the promotion of Shane Carle to Bradenton.

5t. Jay Jackson - Jackson picked up four innings in relief on Sunday, and was outstanding in his appearance. He gave up two hits, no walks, and struck out six. Jackson has a 4.89 ERA in 84.2 innings this year, with an 87:36 K/BB ratio. He’s unlikely to make the majors with the Pirates, but should be used as depth in Triple-A if the Pirates need a call up later in the year.

7. Hector Garcia - Garcia is a lefty who has been putting up some nice numbers in the Bristol rotation. He has a 3.68 ERA in 29.1 innings, with a 31:11 K/BB ratio. He can get his fastball up to 92 MPH, and is showing better control than what he had last year in the DSL. I’m skeptical of most left-handers in the lower levels until they have success in the upper levels. Garcia is no exception, although it looks like he’ll continue getting a big role as a starter if he keeps putting up these numbers going forward.

8. Buddy Borden - Borden has looked great this season, outing of a rough stretch in the early part of June. He has recovered from that to put up a 2.89 ERA in 46.2 innings over his last ten starts, with a 45:18 K/BB ratio. Control has been an issue for him at times, but he seems to be doing a better job of that lately. He gave up just two walks in his last start, and has just five walks in 18 innings over his last three outings. Borden has one of the best arms in the system, and is definitely a starter to follow as he continues to progress through the minors.

9. Montana DuRapau - DuRapau was taken in the 32nd round this year, and quickly moved to a starting role with Jamestown due to his strong performance. That continued this week, as he gave up one run in five innings in a piggyback start. He has a 2.68 ERA in 37 innings this year, with a 29:5 K/BB ratio.

10t. Alex McRae - McRae was taken by the Pirates in the 10th round of the 2014 draft. So far with Jamestown he has a 3.38 ERA in 45.1 innings, along with a 33:7 K/BB ratio. He sits 90-93 MPH with his fastball, mixing in a low 80s changeup and a low 80s slider. Will Cleveland wrote about one of his recent starts here.

10t. Adrian Sampson - Sampson has been the breakout pitcher of the year in the Pirates’ system. He continued his success this week, giving up one earned run in seven innings. Sampson has a 2.62 ERA in 141 innings, with a 95:30 K/BB ratio. In four starts since the All-Star break, he has a 1.93 ERA in 28 innings, with an 11:3 K/BB ratio.

10t. Shane Carle - Carle has struggled since moving up to Bradenton. He has a 4.65 ERA in 31 innings, with a 17:9 K/BB ratio. His most recent outing was much better, with one earned run in six innings. He also posted a much better ground ball rate, which was something that was present in West Virginia, but missing over the last few starts.

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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  • Leefoo Rug Bug

    With a name like Montana DuRapau, he HAS to make it big, right?

    • S Brooks

      Would love to see a future rotation of Gerrit, Jameson, Tyler, Buddy and Montana. If it doesn’t win the world series, they can at least make the cast of Bonanza.

  • Y2JGQ2

    Tim- I love your site, i check it everyday, and i like that I don’t always agree with you but…..
    We’ve seen plenty of players in the major leagues exist perfectly well with almost no fastball to speak of, we can name them if you’d like, but I know you are old enough to remember people like Barry Zito, Bob Tewskbury, Jamie Moyer, etc. Not to mention about a zillion lefty specialists, knuckleball pitchers…..just quit saying that offspeed pitchers with no fastballs won’t be succesful, because quite honestly, you can’t know that. Its a guess. Normally that wouldn’t get AAA hitters out either, which is the only reason why i’m speaking up. Stating that a guy with a garbage fastball is unlikely to be succesful is so obvious it doesn’t need to be told. Instead, maybe some scouting regarding why he is having success, how hitters look facing him, first hand accounts……may prove to be more useful. If you don’t want to do that fine, but in that case, just say nothing at all regarding this 32 year old guy.