Top 10 Pitchers: Sampson, Cumpton, Glasnow, and a Pitcher You Should Learn About

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. Adrian Sampson – Adrian Sampson has been having a breakout season, and added to that with a one hitter on Friday. Sampson gave up his only hit with one out in the ninth inning, but completed the outing with 98 pitches. His game score of 86 is the highest of any Pirates prospect over the last two years, since we’ve been tracking the weekly scores.

2. Brandon Cumpton – In any other week, Cumpton’s outing would have easily been the top score. He threw eight shutout innings, giving up two hits and four walks. You know what you’re getting with Cumpton. He’ll get a lot of ground ball outs, and won’t give up a lot of hits in Triple-A. He’s good enough to be a starter in the majors, but for now is a strong depth option for the Pirates.

3. John Kuchno – And then there’s this one…

4. John Kuchno – It’s pretty amazing to have two gems in the same week. Kuchno is quietly having a nice season in Bradenton, with a 3.68 ERA in 110 innings. He dealt with control problems early in the year, but has done a better job of that, with 18 walks in his last 66.1 innings. There’s nothing flashy here. Kuchno has a low strikeout total, but an extreme ground ball rate, with a 2.55 GO/AO ratio. He’s got a 61.9% ground ball rate, and has gotten a ground out 29% of the time this year in all plate appearances. In over 80% of plate appearances against him, he is getting a groundout, a strikeout, a fly out, a single, or a walk. Basically, opposing hitters are having a difficult time getting more than one base off him. In fact, that has only happened in 5.01% of his plate appearances this year.

5. Tyler Glasnow – Glasnow ran into some trouble early in his start last week, throwing a 26 pitch first inning. He rebounded quick, and went 5.2 innings, giving up one walk in the entire outing. He’s walked just three batters in 18 innings over his last three starts. Eight of his last ten starts have seen two walks or less. He’s still having a bad start with his control every so often, but the results have gotten much better.

6. Cody Dickson – I had Dickson as a sleeper to break out at the start of the year. He’s a lefty with a good fastball that can touch mid-90s, and a good breaking pitch. He needed to work on his control, and needed a changeup. The first half wasn’t kind to Dickson, with a 4.81 ERA in April, and an ERA over 5 in May and June. Including the second half of June, he has been doing much better lately. Dickson has a 1.89 ERA in 33.1 innings over his last six starts. He’s also been cutting down on the walks, with 11 in that span. The strange thing is that Dickson has struggled against lefties this year, while putting up decent results against right-handers. He’s not breaking out yet, but he’s starting to head in the right direction.

7. Omar Basulto – Basulto has been impressive in Bristol, with a 1.59 ERA in 22.2 innings, along with a 19:5 K/BB ratio. He’s a soft tossing lefty with good control, which usually leads to success in the lower levels. Speaking of that type of pitcher…

8. Gerardo Navarro – Navarro has been decent this year, with one horrible outing blowing up his ERA. His start this week saw one run in five innings, with one walk and five strikeouts. However, he’s also a soft tossing lefty. In both cases, I wouldn’t consider these guys legit prospects until they’ve had success at the Double-A level.

9. Montana DuRapau – DuRapau has been a good story this year. He’s a 32nd round pick who was a college senior. He went to Jamestown and pitched in relief, then moved to the rotation and hasn’t looked back. He’s got a 1.67 ERA in 27 innings, with a 21:4 K/BB ratio. That has to be taken with the disclaimer that he’s a college pitcher in a college league. However, the fact that he’s starting must mean the Pirates see him as a guy who is more than just a lower level organizational filler.

10. Jake Burnette – Burnette has been recovering from shoulder surgery, and made his third rehab start this week, going three innings in the GCL. Based on the progression, his next outing could be four innings, as he gets closer to a return to the higher levels. I’d expect Burnette to go to West Virginia, which is where he started last year before the injury.

Tim started Pirates Prospects in 2009 from his home in Virginia, which was 40 minutes from where Pedro Alvarez made his pro debut in Lynchburg. That year, the Lynchburg Hillcats won the Carolina League championship, and Pirates Prospects was born from Tim's reporting along the way. The site has grown over the years to include many more writers, and Tim has gone on to become a credentialed MLB reporter, producing Pirates Prospects each year, and will publish his 11th Prospect Guide this offseason. He has also served as the Pittsburgh Pirates correspondent for Baseball America since 2019. Behind the scenes, Tim is an avid music lover, and most of the money he gets paid to run this site goes to vinyl records.

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As a mental picture of n. Huntington sitting in his office tapping his fingers,while thinking hmm… who to trade,who to trade,goes through my head.


Solid year for th Bradenton rotation with Glasnow, Kuchno, Kuhl and Creasy all looking like they’ll earn spots in Altoona next season.

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