Pittsburgh Pirates 2014 Top Prospects: #3 – Tyler Glasnow

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To recap the countdown so far:

20. Michael De La Cruz, OF
19. JaCoby Jones, OF
18. Barrett Barnes, OF
17. Cody Dickson, LHP
16. Blake Taylor, LHP
15. Joely Rodriguez, LHP
14. Andrew Lambo, OF
13. Stolmy Pimentel, RHP
12. Clay Holmes, RHP
11. Tony Sanchez, C
10. Harold Ramirez, OF
9. Luis Heredia, RHP
8. Josh Bell, OF
7. Reese McGuire, C
6. Nick Kingham, RHP
5. Alen Hanson, SS
4. Austin Meadows, OF

We continue the countdown with the number 3 prospect, Tyler Glasnow.

Tyler Glasnow struck out 36% of the batters he faced in 2013. (Photo Credit: Tom Bragg)
Tyler Glasnow struck out 36% of the batters he faced in 2013. (Photo Credit: Tom Bragg)

3. Tyler Glasnow, RHP

When Tyler Glasnow was drafted by the Pirates, he was just another tall, projectable right-handed pitcher signed to an over-slot deal. There wasn’t much information available on him, and he didn’t make any of the top draft prospect lists, or even the regional prospect lists. He was a tall pitcher with an upper 80s to lower 90s fastball that touched 93 MPH.

In his two years as a pro, Glasnow has improved at the rapid rate that you hope for when taking highly projectable prep pitchers. He increased his fastball velocity in his first season, hitting 96 MPH consistently by the end of the year. In 2013 he was sitting mid-90s, and touching as high as 99 MPH. What makes the fastball even more impressive is that it is thrown on a steep downward plane, looking to hitters like it is coming in from the sky. The fastball generates a lot of ground balls, leading to a 50% rate in 2013. Glasnow pairs the fastball with a big breaking curveball, which led to some amazing strikeout rates this year in West Virginia. The changeup shows some promise, but is a pitch that he will need to improve upon next year in Bradenton, just like Jameson Taillon did in 2012 at the same level.

The big weakness for Glasnow is his lack of control. The control issues come from an inability to repeat his delivery, which is natural for a young, tall player getting used to his height. Glasnow did show improvements as the 2013 season went on. He was walking batters at a 6-7 BB/9 ratio early in the season, but had that down to a 3-4 BB/9 ratio in his games at the end of the year.

Glasnow has the highest upside of any pitcher in the system. He’s got the chance to be just as good, or better than Gerrit Cole or Jameson Taillon. The difference is that those two have much higher floors, since they don’t have control problems. It’s important to remember that Glasnow would have been a junior in college if he wouldn’t have signed, and likely would have been a top ten pick in the 2014 draft. There is still time for him to continue improving his control.

If Glasnow does improve his control, and improves his changeup, then he could join Cole and Taillon as the third potential ace in the major league rotation. That would give the Pirates one of the best young rotations in baseball. He should start the year in Bradenton, and could move to Altoona by mid-season if all goes well. That sets up a possible jump to the majors by mid-2015.

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  • I also read somewhere (maybe on P2) that Glasnow has really long arms which further increases the difficulty of hitting the fastball because his arm length gets his release so close to the plate. It is easy to dream on a kid like him. It is scary to think what he could do if his velocity even ticks up1-2 more mph. If his changeup improves and his control stays like it was in the 2nd half of 2013 he will blow through the minors in 2014. ..and he doesn’t even need to at 20. He had a 3.03:1 K:H ratio last year in 111ip. Has anyone anywhere done that at any level ever in 100ip? Pedro Martinez & the Big Unit were around 2:1 in their best K season in the majors and never did anything close to that in the minors.

  • CalipariFan506
    January 30, 2014 8:15 am

    Wacha’s success to me is based more on deception than stuff. It doesn’t look like hitters see the ball out of his hand real well.

    • Some people already think Wacha has the best changeup in the game. He has a chance to be effective the way Brandon Webb was before his shoulder fell apart.

  • Can’t wait for this kid to be in Pittsburgh.

  • Hey Tim love the website, I’ve been reading everyday for at least two years now but haven’t commented. A lot to be excited about as a Pirates fan. I have thought the same thing as Max said above. It does sound like Wacha is a good comparison. Over the top delivery making it more on a downward plane. I haven’t been able to see Glasnow (I have witnessed Wacha dominate us). What causes the downward plane for Glasnow? Could it be over the top delivery or simply his height or a combo?


  • Seems to me like a logical comparison is Michael Wacha. Between the height, severe downward plane, powerful fastball coupled with above average changeup, and early development, they are very similar. The only thing glasnow is missing is the control that Wacha exhibits.

    Needless to say I think we would all be thrilled if he turned out like it seems Wacha might

  • The thought of Cole, Taillion, Kingham & Glasonow is Awesome! Totally Awesome!!!!

  • I am hoping that Tyler finds his control just like another tall pitcher, Randy Johnson (even tho he threw lefty).

    If not, we still have a potential ‘lights out’ reliever, right?

  • I have a question in regards to ceiling. If Cole and Taillon have “ace” type ceilings, how can one have a higher ceiling than that? Are we talking, historic-type ace like Johnson, Martinez, etc? A serious question, although I’m sure it sounds dumb to many.

    • Not throwing these names out as a comparison, but as an example of how “aces” can have different results. Justin Verlander and Felix Hernandez are both considered aces. But I think Clayton Kershaw is better than both of those guys. All three carry the “ace” title, but one is better than the other two.

      • Thanks Tim. As a follow-up (and you may cover this elsewhere, so I apologize for asking if you did), but why would Glasnow’s ceiling be higher rather than the same? More of an unfinished product, so more room for growth or the unknown?

        • A lot of it is his upside. He has great stuff now, and he’s still young and getting stronger. By comparison:

          **Glasnow made big strides with the changeup in low-A. Taillon didn’t make those strides with his change until high-A/Double-A.
          **Glasnow could get stronger and start hitting the upper 90s consistently. Gerrit Cole entered pro ball with this ability, but he was also a 1-2 years older than Glasnow.

          It’s just the fact that his stuff is so strong and his development has started so early with a lot of room to grow. He’s also got a lot of room for added strength, and the tall frame really makes it difficult on hitters with his stuff.

          • I can hardly wait till he hits AA myself Tim. By the way,do you know that all of the comments here are now being posted to my e-mail In Box ? It never happened before and I wonder if any one else is having this issue. The Burnette comments are crushing me !

            • I just updated to the newest version of WordPress yesterday. I’m not sure if it has a new subscription option where you’d get an alert when there’s a new message in a thread that you’ve posted in.

              This is the first I’ve heard of it, mostly because every comment on the site goes into my inbox. So there was no difference for me.

  • “What makes the fastball even more impressive is that it is thrown on a steep downward plane, looking to hitters like it is coming in from the sky.” That’s awesome.

  • Good info. It shows the importance of drafting those “arms”. Thanks Tim.