Free agency began today, with four Pittsburgh Pirates — Russell Martin, Francisco Liriano, Edinson Volquez, and Clint Barmes — officially filing as free agents. Martin is going to be a huge focus, although the other big focus will be on starting pitching. The Pirates will most likely need to add two starting pitchers from the outside, adding to their internal options of Gerrit Cole, Vance Worley, Charlie Morton, Jeff Locke, and Brandon Cumpton. They also have several top prospects in the upper levels of the minors who could arrive by mid-season — Jameson Taillon, Nick Kingham, and Adrian Sampson.
The one upper level pitching prospect who isn’t on that list is Tyler Glasnow. The right-hander is projected to start the year in Altoona, and I project him to stay there for almost the entire 2015 season. Glasnow has put up video game numbers in each of the last two seasons, making him look like one of the best pitchers in minor league baseball. Glasnow has the abilities to be one of the best pitchers in minor league baseball, and eventually, one of the best in the majors. But he will need to spend a lot more time in the minors than you’d expect by just looking at the video game numbers alone.
Tonight was a perfect example of that. Glasnow was coming off three straight shutout appearances in the AFL, only to deal with control issues. After the outing, Jeff Moore of Baseball Prospectus had this to say on his command.
I saw a lot of Glasnow in Bradenton this year, including dominant starts, or one of the rare starts where he struggled. The common trend in all of those starts was that he had an inning where everything fell apart from the command side. On the best days, he would fix the command issues mid-inning. Most days the command would lead to one bad inning. On the worst days, the command issues would continue for a second or third inning, leading to a bad outing and shortening his day. Glasnow has amazing stuff, which is why he was able to get away with this while still putting up strong numbers in the lower levels.
He has been improving on this, but it’s still a concern. It’s a big reason why he stayed in Bradenton all season, despite the results. It’s probably why he will spend all of next season in Altoona.
Jeff’s tweet is correct. Right now, Glasnow would be one of those starters like Ian Snell, who had great stuff, but always had a blowup inning that led to Quad-A results from top of the rotation stuff. And so he’ll work to improve on those results, and make it so that outings like tonight won’t be a common issue going forward. From the looks of the early results in the AFL, Glasnow is going to see the same results in Double-A that he saw in both levels of A-ball. He will have some unstoppable outings, followed by a blow-up outing where his lack of command kills him.
In short, Glasnow could have another season where the only way he can be beat is if he is off his game. He’ll have another year and a half in the minors to get more consistent in that regard before he is expected to arrive in the majors. And it’s important to remember during this time that he’s going to look great most of the time, but there are some developmental issues he still needs a lot of work on before he can go on to have success in the majors.
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