The Pittsburgh Pirates were having difficulty getting innings for some of their pitching prospects in Major League camp, which led to yesterday’s cuts of Tyler Glasnow, Angel Sanchez, and Adrian Sampson. Glasnow and Sanchez will pitch in the Altoona rotation this year, with Sampson will pitch out of the Indianapolis rotation. In their first days in minor league camp, the Pirates helped to solve the lack of innings by having all three go two innings in a sim game.
Glasnow and Sampson started the game, while Sanchez came in for the third and fourth innings. The best of the group, unsurprisingly, was Glasnow. Sanchez looked good in the one inning I watched, while Sampson was hit pretty hard, leading to his first inning getting rolled. He wasn’t doing a great job of attacking the strike zone, working on the outside edges.
Meanwhile, Glasnow was his usual dominant self in his two innings of work. He was so efficient that he had to stay out on the mound to face four more batters after retiring the first three guys in the second inning with a groundout, walk, and two pitches to the third batter which led to a double play. The only person to get a solid hit off him was Reese McGuire, who popped up in his first at-bat, then lined a double to the right field gap. Glasnow was sitting 93-94 MPH with his fastball today.
One thing I noticed today was that Glasnow was getting a ton of ground balls. Last year he was more of a fly ball pitcher, with just a 41% ground ball rate. Neal Huntington talked yesterday about how his fastball has sinking action when it is low in the zone, which means they probably won’t have to teach him a two-seam fastball to get those easy ground ball outs. I asked Glasnow after today’s game if he would be focusing on ground balls this year, but that was apparently just a focus today.
“When I get low in the zone, it ends up happening,” Glasnow said on the high amount of grounders today. “I just went out, worked a little. Felt calmer today, and just wanted to work on [my fastball low in the zone]. That was my biggest focus today.”
Glasnow noted that he’s always trying to work low in the zone, and that it is harder for him, although it has gotten easier over the years. Today his fastball, when it was low, was turning solid contact into routine ground ball outs. His fastball was heavy at times, and when it was low, hitters couldn’t do anything with it.
“I think just being on time, and getting on top of the ball,” Glasnow said about getting that sinking action. “I don’t throw a two-seam or anything. Just throwing a fastball correctly gets it to move a lot.”
Glasnow’s fastball is dominant, even when he works up in the zone, so the focus on staying down isn’t a huge deal. But today was an example of just how nasty that low fastball can be when he’s executing it right.