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First Pitch: The Evolution of Tyler Glasnow’s Changeup

Tyler Glasnow may have finally found a changeup that will work for him. Photo Credit: Tim Williams
First Pitch: The Evolution of Tyler Glasnow’s Changeup

BRADENTON, Fla. – At some point, people were going to write about Tyler Glasnow’s changeup. It was a huge topic last year in terms of his development, and a big focus for him this year and going forward in his quest to reach his upside. So it was inevitable that he’d get some questions about the pitch.

What wasn’t inevitable was the knowledge that he had a new changeup grip. There were only two ways that information would come out. Number one was that he would volunteer the information later in camp when he started getting questions about the pitch, and this isn’t guaranteed. Number two is that you have someone who has studied his changeup dating back to the point when most people didn’t know who Tyler Glasnow was. That person would need to take photos of Glasnow pitching, then go through and study those photos. He would need to have the background on Glasnow to instantly recognize a new grip, and then would need to track Glasnow down and ask him about said grip.

That person was me, earlier this week. I stood in the dugout at the side of the bullpen, taking photos of Glasnow’s pitches, hoping to notice a difference. I wasn’t looking for the changeup. I just take photos of every pitcher, then study those photos for possible changes, so I know what to ask about. Sometimes this leads to a dead-end where I notice something I didn’t notice before. But that wasn’t possible in this case. I’ve been covering Glasnow since he was drafted, and I can’t count the number of conversations I’ve had with him over the years about the changeup. So when I saw he had the new grip, and I saw he was actually throwing a changeup in the first place, I knew there was a story.

Of course, I later had to apologize to Glasnow. The day after my story ran, he started getting several interview requests about his “new changeup”, which I’m guessing was just coincidental. Meanwhile, I wanted to talk more about the pitch as well, while also expanding on the topic.

My favorite articles to write, and the best ones that I write, are the ones where I do a timeline of the changes a player undergoes, finishing off with the final change that could bring everything together. I did this two years ago by detailing The Evolution of Jameson Taillon’s Delivery. I did this last year by breaking down Josh Bell’s swing changes, and showing why he could add more power in 2016. I’ve done this in many other cases as well. We cover these guys constantly from the day they enter the system. That’s our advantage that no other outlet has. These articles put that advantage to full use, providing information and background that you can’t find anywhere else.

I’ve had countless conversations about Glasnow’s changeup over the years with Glasnow himself, his pitching coach Justin Meccage, and his pitching coordinator Scott Mitchell. After discovering this new changeup grip, I felt it was only appropriate to see how we got here, and show why this one is different. And so I give you The Evolution of Tyler Glasnow’s Changeup.

The History of Glasnow’s Changeup

There’s a lot that goes into throwing a good changeup, or even a decent changeup. I could write an entire other article on the subject (Spoiler Alert: that article is already in the works), but the cliff notes version is that you need to be comfortable with the grip, you need to have velocity separation from your fastball, you need some late movement, and you need the arm speed and arm slot to match the fastball, in order to add deception.

When Glasnow came to the Pirates, he threw a split finger changeup. That was taken away from him, as the Pirates don’t allow young pitchers to throw splits due to the strain this places on a pitcher’s forearm, and the injury risk this causes. So Glasnow received a new changeup grip from day one.

Glasnow also had a two-seam fastball in high school, but the Pirates also took this away. They wanted him focusing on commanding the four-seam fastball, and showing better control. The best way to do this was focusing on only one fastball. Again, this is a common approach with their younger pitchers.

Since Glasnow was throwing a four-seam fastball, the Pirates had him throwing a four-seam changeup, so that the grips would match and be more comfortable. But that didn’t work for Glasnow, due to a unique reason.

“With his fingers as big as [his] are, that wasn’t working,” Scott Mitchell said. “So we went to a two-seam grip, which we generally don’t do. If a guy throws a four seam, we want him throwing a four seam changeup. If he’s a two-seam guy, we want a two-seam changeup. But he showed some comfort with the two-seam grip, but still wouldn’t trust it enough to throw it during the game.”

Glasnow was more comfortable with the two-seam grip on the changeup, but that didn’t mean he was comfortable with the pitch. And that brings us to the first big thing that was holding him back from having a changeup.

Finding a Comfortable Grip

The biggest difference I noticed when talking to Glasnow about his new changeup earlier in the week was how excited he was about the new pitch. He was excited about the movement. He was excited about how comfortable the grip was. He was excited to eventually throw it in games. I was very skeptical about that. But then I watched his two inning live BP, and he ended up throwing eight changeups.

Let me put that in perspective for you. Glasnow made seven appearances and four starts in the majors last year. He pitched 23.1 innings. He only threw seven changeups in that entire time. That is how little comfort he had in that pitch. He threw more changeups in Saturday’s live BP than he did in his entire MLB debut.

“I made sure to throw a good amount yesterday, just to get a feel for it against the hitters,” Glasnow told me on Sunday afternoon. “I have a lot of confidence in it too, which is different. I never was confident with my changeup. It feels like a fastball. I just throw it.”

Glasnow has finally found a changeup he’s comfortable with, and that is a huge first step.

“Watching him over the last three or four years, with the size of his hands, something comfortable is the key,” Mitchell said. “Looking at the grip that he currently had, simply just rolled the ball up into his fingers, put the seams on his two middle fingers. A guy with big hands like that, and big fingers, having something to feel sometimes works. There was instant comfort with it, and feel. As he’s throwing it more, he’s becoming more comfortable with it and trusting the ball.”

Let’s put what Mitchell said into picture form to explain it better. Here is Glasnow’s old grip:

It’s kind of a circle change grip, and the middle two fingers are perpendicular to the seams, giving him a four seam grip. The difference is that a four seam grip for the fastball is held with the first two fingers running across the seams. The changeup uses the middle two fingers, which helps to take some velocity off the pitch and add some movement.

The problem here was that Glasnow’s hands are too big, and his fingers were too close together. He wasn’t able to get a good grip on the ball, which was the root of his problems. So Mitchell decided to widen his fingers and utilize his big hands with the new grip, shown below.

Here is the grip on the mound:

The big change here is that we now have a two-seam grip, which runs across the seams. This leads to Glasnow spreading his fingers wider, which he can do because of his big hands. The seams give him something to grip, keeping the ball firm in his hand. He still has the circle changeup, but spreads his fingers out a bit more, tucking his thumb below the ball. That part is kind of similar to A.J. Schugel’s changeup, pictured below:

I don’t know what the hell is going on with the rest of Schugel’s grip, but his changeup is pure magic, and definitely will be the source of a future article. I will point out that this shows how big Glasnow’s fingers are. Schugel has the thumb underneath, but the rest of his fingers are kind of behind the ball, hitting all four corners for support. Glasnow rolled the ball up his fingers into his hand, allowing his large fingers to engulf the ball. At this point, if you skipped ahead to this paragraph, you might think I’m writing an erotic novel. I would just argue there’s no better fitting way to write about a good changeup.

The end result is that Glasnow went from bunching his fingers closer together, to now spreading them out and getting a stronger grip on the ball, while also adding more comfort. Adding the two-seam fastball back, which I reported on back in January, helps this cause as well, since it gets Glasnow more comfortable with using a two-seam grip more often.

“The bottom line, the pitcher has got to be comfortable with it,” Mitchell said of the changeup grip. “They’ve got to trust it. It’s got to feel good in their hand.”

As for Glasnow’s grip, Mitchell noticed the comfort right away, even if the development wasn’t completely smooth.

“Giving him the grip, he threw it in the throwing program, threw it in the pen, and the results weren’t great, but he still threw it,” Mitchell said. “That was huge for me to know this is a grip that he likes. He feels good with it. The results weren’t there. And he still threw it. Next day, throwing program, he threw it, loved it. He got better with it in his next pen. I didn’t get to see the live BP, but I heard good things about it. And throwing it to righties, that’s going to be a huge pitch for him.”

A Better Mentality

When I’ve talked to Glasnow over the years, I’ve written a lot about his nerves. I hesitate to write anything about a player’s nerves, or what might be going on in their head. Usually when that happens, people take it and run with it, and before long, the player is turned into a character who breaks down in tears when an opposing hitter looks at him funny. But in this case, I wrote so much about Glasnow’s nerves because of all of the conversations where Glasnow himself would mention the impact they had. His pitching coach from 2014-2015, Justin Meccage, would echo similar thoughts.

Last year, toward the end of the year, Glasnow was in a bad place mentally. He was being asked to throw a changeup that he wasn’t comfortable throwing. He didn’t need to throw the changeup to get Triple-A hitters out, but found out in the majors that you do need a third pitch.

“It’s something that he was encouraged to do, and something he’ll be continued to encouraged to do,” Clint Hurdle said. “For him now, walking away from that experience, you realize if you want to start in the big league, three pitches is a legitimate desire and a legitimate goal to work on.”

The thing about the changeup grip is that practice might not make a grip more comfortable. It might not make a grip more effective. But if you don’t practice it, you guarantee that you won’t see improvements. Glasnow wasn’t practicing the pitch, and went starts where he barely threw it. He was forced by the Pirates to throw it X amount of times per game, but even abandoned that. And he found himself struggling toward the end of the year, even though his pure stuff hid that in the stats. He looked visibly frustrated after games, and did not seem to enjoy talking about the subject of the changeup.

Glasnow is in a much better place this year. He’s calm and relaxed. He’s showing enthusiasm and drive to work on the changeup, even before this new grip. In the past, he’d talk about the changeup as if it was something he needed to work on, like eating your vegetables. Now? He talks about it like it’s something he wants to work on.

Perhaps no one is better qualified to elaborate on the difference than Meccage. Glasnow did some of his best development under Meccage in 2014 and 2015. The two have such a good relationship that the Pirates sent Glasnow to rehab in Double-A last year, just to get him working with Meccage while he was struggling. And on Saturday, when Glasnow faced live hitters with his changeup for the first time, Meccage was standing right behind him, watching and giving feedback and advice. Meccage also noticed the change in Glasnow’s mentality.

“I thought he came into camp in really good shape, physically,” Meccage said. “Both the body and delivery-wise. Mentality-wise, which is the biggest thing for me. I thought he was in a good spot mentally. I think he learned a lot from last year, and I think he’s going to take it into camp this year. I thought for his first live BP, he handled it really well.”

Meccage said that the big league experience probably helped Glasnow learn what he needed to do going forward, and how important the changeup was. This led to a new focus on the pitch, even before Mitchell added the new grip.

“He spent a lot of time in the offseason on the changeup,” Meccage said. “The other grip, but he threw it a lot. I think that also, on top of the new grip, I think throwing it more this offseason, getting that pitch ready, and understanding how important it is for a starting pitcher in the big leagues to have that. … I think he learned that it’s something that he wants to get better at, and he needs it. I think it’s just selling out to the fact that he needs to use it, and it’s an important pitch for him to be a successful Major League pitcher.”

I talked with Glasnow about the impact Meccage has played in his development over the years, and Glasnow had high praise, while also displaying confidence in who he is now on the mound.

“That was awhile ago, and I was still figuring myself out,” Glasnow said of the earlier development. “At this point, I know who I am as a pitcher. It was great to have him, because I liked his intensity. He wasn’t afraid to get on me if I wasn’t throwing hard, or if I was just out of whack. He was really good at noticing, and he was really good with adjustments with me. We played together for so long, it was good. I just enjoyed going to the field and being around him. He’s a good friend of mine, and I consider him a really good coach.”

Glasnow is visibly in a much better place this year, which is going to help him in many areas. The big one in this case is that he finally realized the importance of the changeup, and embraced the work, regardless of the grip. It’s just a huge bonus that he then found a grip he liked.

The Velocity and Movement

We’ve covered having a comfortable grip and Glasnow getting to a good point where he embraces the changeup. But none of that matters if you have a pitch that is close to your fastball in velocity, or without movement. In Glasnow’s case, the movement is more important, since a slower pitch with no movement acts like a really slow fastball, which is a huge advantage for opposing hitters. This was the problem with his old changeup.

“It was 92 and didn’t move at all,” Glasnow said of the old pitch. “So if I threw it, it would be a bad fastball. Now we’re playing it off the two-seam too, and it has better movement, so it’s just more comfortable.”

Glasnow said that the old changeup didn’t have much movement and was inconsistent: “There were some games I’d get it down to 87 [MPH], but it would be like a conscious slow down, rather than just throwing it that way.”

The best part about the new pitch is that Glasnow is throwing it exactly like a fastball, giving him the same arm speed as the fastball, and the deception needed out of the hand. He’s not trying to slow his arm down to make the pitch go slower, which is a big problem pitchers run into with the changeup. Instead, he’s just throwing natural, and letting the grip do the work.

“That’s what’s rare. I was never able to do that before. So now I can throw it like a fastball.”

There aren’t any velocity readings yet, but the movement is there. Glasnow said the goal is to have both.

“I want a little bit of both, but as long as it’s different than my fastball,” Glasnow said. “It’s something else that hitters can see, and it changes timing up, and I’m confident in it with my curveball. I know I can throw that for strikes. So it’s just another third pitch I can have to just kind of screw with their timing.”

So far, the feedback he has received has been positive, especially after the first live BP session with the feedback he got from Meccage and opposing hitters.

“I talked to Mess, and asked him how did that move, and he told me,” Glasnow said. “I talked to some of the hitters. Some of them said on one or two it might have been hard, the ones I tried to throw. It would have still been a good difference from my fastball. So I’m just trying to find where to place it in my hand to get that velo difference.”

Meccage shared with me his opinion of the pitch after seeing it against live hitters for the first time: “I thought that was a really good changeup. It’s got a little bit of action to it. I’ve seen times of it being good, but that was probably the most consistent that I’ve seen it. It looks like he’s comfortable throwing it. He was calling those on his own. Against right-handers even, and that shows you where they’re at with their changeup. I think he likes where he’s at with it, and I like what I saw with it.”

Don’t think that Glasnow is done with his work though. It’s a new pitch, which means he needs to get consistent with it. And even though it has movement, there can be such a thing as too much movement.

“We’ve warned Glass that if [he’s] seeing it move, chances are the hitter is going to see it move,” Mitchell said. “So let the hitter’s swing [and] how they’re taking it show you how it’s moving. Don’t get caught up with having a big moving pitch, because if you’re able to see it move on the mound, the hitter is going to be able to see it at the plate.”

That said, Mitchell also praised the movement on the pitch, saying there was some late fade to the new changeup, and that it’s a weapon within a weapon.

“With power pitchers — and I wasn’t a power pitcher so I don’t know what that feels like — but these guys who throw hard, to throw something softer, they’re hesitant,” Mitchell said. “It’s normal, and I get that. So to have something that’s moving, it’s another weapon within a weapon. It gives them comfort knowing that the pitch is going to move. So it does have a little late fade, a little late sink.”

Glasnow said that his old changeup wouldn’t feel right in his hand, leading him to throw harder, get on the side of the ball, and cut the pitch. This resulted in a 92 MPH cutter with no control that he couldn’t throw for a strike. And when he wasn’t trying to manipulate movement, the ball was flat and a bad fastball. Now, no matter how hard he throws the pitch, he’s getting on top of the ball. If he does miss, it’s left-right and down, rather than up and all over the zone. That’s very preferred, and means that Glasnow won’t pay for a lot of mistakes by leaving pitches up while he’s learning the new changeup.

“I’ve been throwing it a ton in the throwing program, getting more and more comfortable with it,” Glasnow said. “I’m excited.”

The Evolution of Tyler Glasnow’s Changeup

When I wrote about Jameson Taillon’s delivery, or Josh Bell’s swing, they were pretty much finished products. They detailed adjustments over the years, and a finished result that looked like it would lead to favorable results. It’s too early to say that Glasnow’s changeup will lead to results, but the signs right now are encouraging.

Glasnow is comfortable with the grip. He’s in a good place with his mentality, and finally realizes the importance of the pitch. He’s finally getting movement on the pitch without having to manipulate it, and he’s getting more consistency with the pitch, while missing low when he does throw a bad one. All of these things are good signs, and good indicators that Glasnow has finally found the changeup that will work for him, and that will help him reach his upside. That changeup is also the key to him winning a rotation spot out of camp, or the guide to how soon he will be in Pittsburgh this year.

“He’s got one that will play, he just needs to throw it,” Hurdle said. “He’s got to find the confidence in Spring Training — still trying to compete and make the club — to use it. To use it appropriately, to throw it whenever he can in the pen, to throw it on the side, to throw it flat ground, to throw it. The curve will play. The fastball command, let it eat. It doesn’t need to be in the middle of the plate. We want him to be aggressive. We want him to have that closer mentality, one inning at a time. And that seems to be the way he’s coming into camp, one inning at a time.”

**I made this article free for two reasons. One is that there will be other articles on Glasnow’s new changeup going out that won’t be much different than what we’ve already reported, and I wanted to show the difference in our coverage. I also wanted to show an example of the depth of coverage that you get on this site on a daily basis. If you aren’t a subscriber, I hope this article gets you to consider giving us a shot. The subscriptions to this site allow us to cover every prospect with this much depth, leading to future articles like this. Subscribe today to get all of our coverage this spring and this season.

If you are a subscriber, share this article with any Pirates fans you know, showing them what we have to offer!

**The 2017 Prospect Guide is now available, with discounts for subscribers! The pre-sales shipped out this past week, and some have started to arrive. The book features profiles on every player in the system. You can order your copy here.

**Tyler Glasnow Has a New Changeup: “The Scott Mitchell Special”. The original article on Glasnow’s new changeup.

**Francisco Cervelli and Jason Stoffel Both Listed Day-to-Day with Discomfort. Today’s news, with more updates to come this week.

**Pirates Notebook: The Makeup of the Bench, Health of the Catchers, Early Camp Notes. Today’s notes, with a look at the bench, the health of the catchers, and some of the early workout reactions.

**2017 Pirates Draft Preview: A Draft Class Top Heavy with College and Prep Pitching Talent. John Dreker has already started his draft coverage, which will extend all the way to and beyond the 2017 draft.

**Alen Hanson’s First and Last Shot With the Pirates. Hanson is out of options, and is getting his first real shot with the team.

**The Pirates Finally Made the Right Call For Their Outfield Alignment. A look at how the Pirates finally made the right call by moving Starling Marte to center field.

  • Outstanding article. Thank you Tim. This is why I subscribe.

    • emjayinTN

      Exactly, detail that is not available and a trip inside the mechanics of developing a pitcher – mentally and physically. You may develop a following of advance scouts, Tim. Great stuff.

  • DanielF

    If the changeup develops rapidly then we might be seeing Glasnow in Pittsburgh this April instead of June. If the control starts coming around than there isn’t much left for Glasnow to do to reach his tantalizing upside. ALL ABOARD THE HYPE TRAIN!!!!!!!!

    • DF…I love your optimism, but I bet they keep him down until the All Star break for that all important “year of control”?

      • John Dreker

        June 19th gets them an extra year of control

        • I thought it got moved back to July….not sure why I thought that. :(

          However, I like June 19th a WHOLE lot better than after the All Star break.

          • John Dreker

            He has 66 days of MLB service, so they just need to keep him under 172 days, meaning he can get as many as 105 this year and they still have six seasons of control. It gets them an extra year, though he will be a super two player, so there is a small trade-off for it.

      • DanielF

        Too late, the hype train has no brakes! Choo choo!!!!!

  • Scott K

    Certainly an early contender for article of the year. Bravo, Tim.

    Should have every Pirates fan on the edge of their seat this Spring to see how this new pitch plays out for Glass.

    Whether or not he is part of the rotation coming out of camp, there’s now reason to believe, not just hope, he will become a dominant SP for Pirates in the not too distant future.

  • Randy W

    Tim, I’m a total baseball nerd, and I absolutely love these highly detailed articles you do sometimes. Tons of great info. Thanks!

  • I love the fact that his changeup is almost identical to Schugel’s. AJ has a really good one. If TG’s develops similarly………….look out?!

    • Darkstone42

      Schugel’s changeup is in competition of best offering on the Pirates’ staff. Since Glasnow’s fastball and curve are also in that conversation, holy crap.

      • piraterican21

        Rivero’s change up will like a moment of your time….Watson too!

        • Darkstone42

          Watson’s change is fine, but I think fastball command really carries that pitch for him. Rivero’s, I’ll grant, is filthy, but I think that’s in no small part due to the quality of the heater. Schugel gets nearly as good of results with his changeup despite lesser other offerings. I think on its own merit, it’s still arguably the better pitch.

          • piraterican21

            I won’t argue with that, I will actually agree, I like Schugel’s change a whole lot.

    • Scott K

      Begs the question, “How long did it take Schugel to learn to command his changeup in competition?”

      • j.3.feeney

        Apologies for being Captain Pedant here… It “raises” the question, “begs the question” is the name of a logical fallacy.

        Although, as to actually contribute to the discussion, that is a very good question.

  • Great article Tim. I’m glad to see he’s finally comfortable throwing a changeup. Let’s hope that along with his psyche,the change up improves as spring training goes along and he’s ready right out of the gate. If he can put it all together it’s a massive improvement to the rotation without losing any prospects.

  • dcbuccofan

    That looks like a golf ball in his hand.

    • piraterican21

      Seriously, long ass fingers. Sort of a death grip too. I hope it works and Tim, brilliant article.

      • dcbuccofan

        Makes me wonder if JimBbby threw a decent changeup. He had some huge hands.

    • Darkstone42

      Usually, as I understand it, pitchers cut velocity by pushing the ball deeper into their palms, but Glasnow’s fingers are so long, he almost can’t do that without creating difficulty finding a good release point. And now I think I understand why he’s struggled so much to learn a change.

  • Darkstone42

    I wonder how much of introducing back the 2-seam was because of the new changeup, and how much was just to give him an option for getting ground balls. Either, really, could have been the primary motivator, but perhaps a happy coincidence that it will help the changeup play up a bit.

  • Mike

    Good lord I know he has huge hands but that is ridiculous

    Oh and fantastic article. Great showcase for what this site gives that you can’t find elsewhere.

    • rich

      I noticed the strain (whiteness around his middle fingers). Does that not put the same strain on the elbow that the split finger (first two) does?

  • Kozy21

    His hand just swallows the ball. My whole hand can barely touch the strings on both sides… which is probably why I played hockey and not baseball.

  • piraterican21

    Btw, Meccage for bullpen coach, casting my vote right now.

    • I’d rather have him working with all of the minor league pitchers, along with helping MLB guys in this setting.

      • NMR

        Best moves of the winter.

        • When they released the coaching staff list and Meccage wasn’t listed, my thought was “Oh God, what happened to him?”

          Then when I got word he was the new pitching coordinator, I thought “Oh God, what happened to Mitch?”

          • NMR

            Ha!

            You’re like, welp, let’s dust off the last article about another team poaching Pirate coaches. These are becoming easy to write.

      • rich

        Btw … i noticed that Glasnow called him “Mess.” Is his name pronounced like “message?” I always thought it rhymed with “wreckage.”

        • John Dreker

          It is pronounced Message

          • Darkstone42

            Oh my God, I’ve been doing it wrong this whole time.

            • John Dreker

              Until you hear the names said, there are a lot you can be wrong on. Gage Hinsz was one for me, as well as Jared Lakind, Sean Keselica, Montana DuRapau and Jess Amedee to name a few.

              • jiaqic

                Can you please show the correct pronunciation for the players mentioned here?

      • piraterican21

        I get that.

  • ginbear

    Should we be concerned about hitters picking up 2 seam vs 4 seam difference? A 4 seam tends to look like a solid-ish red ball, a 2 seam has stripes coming toward the batter. If hitters can pick out 4 seam = fastball, 2 seam = change, that could undercut the effectiveness of the pitch, which should be to keep hitters from siting on fastball. May have to start throwing a 2 seam fastball just to keep ’em honest.

    • John Dreker

      He is throwing a two-seam this year. From this article:

      “Adding the two-seam fastball back, which I reported on back in January, helps this cause as well, since it gets Glasnow more comfortable with using a two-seam grip more often.”

      • ginbear

        Oh cool. I guess I can’t read so good.

        • John Dreker

          It’s a big article, a lot to digest

          • ginbear

            Its a good article. This is generally the time of year I find this site most valuable. I guess my lingering concern is that this still means working the change off the 2-seam fastball, not the 70-grade four seam. That’s going to mean a the separation will be a couple mph less than otherwise. That’s less than ideal, but I guess at this point its 2 seam or nothing, since he seems to have gotten nowhere developing the other change.

            • NMR

              While an interesting observation, this also might be much ado about nothing.

              Some of the highest-percent changeup users in the game – hell, actually most of them – are also heavy sinker/2-seam guys. The difference in seam direction doesn’t seem (oh god, I’m sorry) to make much of a difference.

        • GreenWeenie

          Don’t be too hard on yourself. Not many bears can read.

  • rich

    Tim … great article, again! With all of the factors playing into a good change up, I was wondering about your thoughts on who you would rather draft (and why):
    – a high school pitcher with a strong fastball and change up but has no breaking pitch (curve or slider)
    – a high school pitcher with an identically strong fastball and a comparably strong breaking pitch but no change up

    • leowalter

      The kid with the most spin on his fastball,not necessarily the one with the most velocity.

    • NMR

      This might be a bit of a tangent, but this is an under-discussed area where new school research and old school scouting have matched.

      You’ll hear a lot of old timers tell you that a good breaking ball cannot be taught. That a kid has to have the inherent ability to spin the ball, or else there’s only so much you can do. Current research on spin rate has actually confirmed the importance of spin, and also the difficulty in specifically trying to improve spin. Biomechanics have identified a pitcher’s hand/wrist dexterity and strength as key factors in generating spin, but haven’t necessarily led to successful training for this. Sort of like velocity or bat speed. You can improve them, but nobody is ever teaching me to throw 90. Just isn’t in my biology.

      So back to your question, a high school pitcher with strong fastball and changeup is GREAT, but also very risky. What if that kid simply cannot spin a quality breaking ball? Plenty of guys get by at least in a bullpen role with good fastball/breaking ball combos, but it’s extremely rare for fastball/changeup guys to succeed.

      This will be a big key to the 2016 draft class. Guys like Keller and Taillon and Hinsz and Glasnow all showed the ability to spin the ball as high schoolers, albeit with far less consistency and quality as they do now. More of the 2016 arms than before notably *lacked* breaking balls while *having* changeups. Whether or not the former can be brought up to average or better will almost certainly determine the upside of all.

  • joe s

    He just needs confidence and the rest will take care of itself.

  • dr dng

    Remember, I am no baseball expert, and also have a
    short memory, but didn’t Glasnow also have problems
    with teams stealing bases on him with great frequency?

    Or was that a problem of our catchers?

    Any solutions to this other than him just not having
    a lot of players on base like he has had it so often
    in the minors.

    • leowalter

      It was on Glasnow. Nobody ever got on base much against him.

    • Hank

      Yeah his career era below 2 tells you about the tons of guys he lets on base…..

  • johnnycee

    those hands would make connie hawkins proud.

  • GreenWeenie

    I’m wondering if reintroducing the 2 seamer is also about giving him another option on days when the command is not there with his best two pitches. You can live off a two seam fastball if you can throw it for strikes. We’ve seen pitchers start games without their best pitch and after a couple of innings, they find it. The key is having an option to help them get thru. Just a thought.

    • It is. It’s going to be a contact pitch for ground balls when his other pitches aren’t working.

  • jitman14

    Loved this article. Thanks, Tim.

  • I’m a little delayed. Minor leaguers arrived today and I did a ton of interviews. Have another big topic coming up later in the week. Got some stuff going up tonight that I didn’t get to earlier.

  • Zack Nagel

    These are my favorite articles as well. I could look at pictures of grips all day long…

  • Micbg77

    This is worth the price of admission right here, good stuff.

First Pitch Free

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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