The Pittsburgh Pirates made their first round of cuts today from Major League Spring Training, sending out five players, including top prospect Tyler Glasnow. The other four players were Wilfredo Boscan, Angel Sanchez, Adrian Sampson, and Keon Broxton. None of the cuts were unexpected, with all five guys being non-roster invitees with no shot to crack the big league roster. In some cases, it was difficult to get guys innings. That was evident last week when Glasnow and Sampson had to throw simulated games at McKechnie Field while the big league club was on the road.

Glasnow said that he used the experience to learn from the other guys in big league camp.

“That was awesome,” Glasnow said. “I had one inning, but it was a really good experience. All of the emotional stuff of the game was really fun. Hopefully I can do it again.”

He will go from here to join the Altoona rotation, where he will likely spend the entire 2015 season. Pirates’ General Manager Neal Huntington talked about Glasnow’s camp, and what to expect from his development going forward.

“He came in hungry to learn, hungry to listen, hungry to watch the major league guys go about it. Really, all five guys,” Huntington said. “Glasnow made a great impression in camp, on and off the field.”

As for the development, there’s not much that needs to change with Glasnow, outside of the continued focus on his fastball command.

“He’s maturing off the field in terms of his focus and his confidence, and his ability to separate pitch-to-pitch,” Huntington said. “The breaking ball is getting tighter, the changeup is getting better, and his ability to use the fastball at the top and bottom of the zone is really intriguing.”

The changeup has been a big focus in the last year, with Glasnow using the pitch heavily in Bradenton. As I reported earlier in camp, he made some adjustments during the Arizona Fall League, and was able to take some velocity off the pitch, while adding some movement.

“We’ll continue to work hard to use the changeup, but the challenge when a guy has a fastball as electric as his, that he’s doing a hitter a favor,” Huntington said. “So we’ve got to pick the right spots and the right opportunities to make sure we get the changeup used. Because if he gets to the big league with one pitch, even as special as the fastball can be, they’re going to hit him. And they’re going to hit him hard.”

Glasnow has three pitches, using his four-seam fastball, his curveball, and the changeup. The Pirates have added a two-seam fastball to a lot of guys when they’ve made the jump to Altoona. That includes Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon. But because of the special movement of Glasnow’s fastball, that might not be necessary.

“We’ll talk about it, but he’s got explosive sink life with his four seamer down in the zone,” Huntington said of adding a two-seam fastball to his mix. “When he stays tall and he drives the ball down in the zone, the ball disappears in the bottom of the zone. Typically you add two-seam to a guy that maybe needs to get the additional action, to get the pitch off the barrel. In Glasnow’s case, it’s explosive at the top of the zone, and he threw some fastballs at the bottom of the zone that had as good of life as most guys’ two-seamers had.”

It wasn’t a surprise to see Glasnow cut, and now he will go to minor league camp and then to Altoona, hopefully continuing his rise from being an unknown fifth round pick to being a potential top of the rotation starter.

“He’s made very good progress, and we’re looking forward to him starting the season at the Double-A rotation,” Huntington said. “His evolution, his development has been a lot of fun to watch, and we’re working hard to make it continue to move forward.”

Adrian Sampson is another top pitching prospect who was cut from big league camp today. He will go to Indianapolis and pitch out of the rotation, which is where he finished the 2014 season. Sampson made big strides last year with his changeup, and that really led to his breakout season in Altoona.

“The tough part with some of these guys, it’s one or two or three innings, depending upon each guy,” Huntington said on evaluating Sampson’s performance this Spring, and what he needs to work on going forward. “Much like Glasnow, it’s just a refinement of his repertoire, and the refinement of the fastball command. And in Adrian’s case, just continuing to believe the work that he’s putting in, that he belongs.”

Sampson will be a mid-season depth option, capable of pitching out of the Pirates’ rotation if needed as an injury replacement.

“He’s got the ability to help us at some point this summer, and we’re looking forward to it,” Huntington said.

The final pitching prospect cut was Angel Sanchez. The Pirates claimed him off waivers last year, then outrighted him to the minors over the off-season when he cleared waivers. They liked him enough to give him an invite to Major League camp. Unlike Glasnow and Sampson, they haven’t had a big opportunity to watch him pitch. They did send him to the Arizona Fall League, but his time pitching in the system has been limited.

“He’s athletic. He’s very intelligent. He’s driven. The fastball, obviously low-to-mid 90s with explosiveness to it. He’s got an intriguing changeup,” Huntington said, before pausing with a smile. “I feel like I’m saying the same thing about all three guys.”

Sanchez will join Glasnow in the Altoona rotation, and the Pirates see him as someone who can eventually make the majors.

“He’s got the ability to move through our system as a starter or a reliever,” Huntington said. “Time will tell. He’s got some weapons that we think can help us at the Major League level at some point.”

Keon Broxton and Wilfredo Boscan were the other two players who were cut. Broxton will likely go to Indianapolis as a starter in their outfield. Boscan will compete for a spot in the Indianapolis bullpen. The Pirates now have 58 active players remaining in camp.

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