As far as minor league pitchers go for the Pirates, it doesn’t get much bigger than the two going tonight. Nick Kingham will make his fourth start for Indianapolis, while Tyler Glasnow makes his third start for Altoona. Today’s starts hold a little more importance for both of them, though I will stress that one start won’t make or break them.
For Nick Kingham, the start is important because he has labored through his last two starts, throwing a total of 182 pitches over nine innings of work. His first start this year was very good and he has a 2:16 BB/SO ratio, so the overall numbers look good, but the pitch count is a big issue. For Kingham to graduate to the Majors, he’s going to need to be a lot more efficient with his pitches than he has been the last two outings.
For Tyler Glasnow, he is coming off one of his best starts ever. Tim Williams covered the start in Altoona and noted that it was the best performance he’s watched from Glasnow. He didn’t walk a batter and kept his pitch count down, which led to one run allowed over six innings. It would be encouraging to see him build off this start, instead of having it act as a start you point to later in the season to show the potential he has for the future.
There is a second part about Glasnow’s start that is interesting and it’s the opposing pitcher. Austin Kubitza will make his third start for Erie. He has allowed two runs over nine innings this year. Kubitza was a fourth round draft pick of the Detroit Tigers in 2013 and that was only because he didn’t sign with the Pittsburgh Pirates when they selected him in the seventh round in 2010. He went to Rice instead and ended up going three rounds earlier three years later, although the draft spot was later than most expected early in the season.
What you have tonight is one tall, projectable righty that the Pirates were able to sign away from college, going up against one they weren’t able to sign. There isn’t much in common with the two players, as Glasnow has the much higher upside and works off his mid-90’s fastball. Kubitza throws a lot of breaking balls, plus works in the high-80’s, which caused his draft stock to drop. Scouts felt he was too reliant on his off-speed pitches and didn’t have a fastball that would allow him to be a top of the rotation starter. Kubitza is an extreme ground ball pitcher, while Glasnow has hovered around a 1.00 GO/AO ratio during his career.
Kubitza is still a pitcher that should have a career in the Majors as a back-end starter. While the Pirates weren’t able to sign him, you like to see a success story that shows the Pirates can do a good job of identifying a high school player with upside in the draft.
Pirates Game Graph
Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pirates defeated the Diamondbacks by a 4-1 score on Friday night. The win put them over .500 for the first time this season. A.J. Burnett makes his fourth start of the season and looks to continues his strong start to the season, which has seen him allow just four earned runs in 18 innings.
In the minors, the start by Tyler Glasnow is the 14th game for Altoona and in the first 13 games, the Curve starter has allowed one earned run or less in every game. Glasnow was originally scheduled to go Wednesday, but rain, plus an off-day, led to him being pushed back to today. Jose Regalado will make his second start, but it will be hard to match his first relief appearance. Regalado threw 5.1 no-hit innings last week as part of a seven inning no-hitter by the Power. All four minor league teams are playing .500 or better now and the four teams have combined for an 8-0 record over the last two days. You can view last night’s prospect watch here.
MLB: Pittsburgh (9-8) vs Diamondbacks (8-8) 8:10 PM
Probable starter: A.J. Burnett (2.00 ERA, 5:16 BB/SO, 18.0 IP)
AAA: Indianapolis (8-7) @ Toledo (7-7) 5:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Nick Kingham (3.60 ERA, 2:16 BB/SO, 15.0 IP)
AA: Altoona (8-5) @ Erie (6-8) 4:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Tyler Glasnow (0.82 ERA, 4:13 BB/SO, 11.0 IP)
High-A: Bradenton (8-8) @ Jupiter (6-10) 5:35 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Felipe Gonzalez (3.94 ERA, 5:8 BB/SO, 16.0 IP)
Low-A: West Virginia (10-5) vs Lexington (5-11) 2:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Jose Regalado (1.08 ERA, 1:8 BB/SO, 8.1 IP)
Tony Sanchez homered on Thursday afternoon. In fact, he had three hits in the game, which is three more than he has in his other three games since being sent down to the minors. Sanchez is 3-for-18 with six strikeouts for Indianapolis.
4/22: Francisco Diaz assigned to WV Black Bears roster. Kawika Emsley-Pai added to WV Power roster.
4/21: John Sever assigned to WV Black Bears roster. Jose Regalado added to West Virginia Power roster.
4/20: Justin Sellers assigned to Bradenton on rehab.
4/19: Wilkin Castillo assigned to West Virginia Black Bears
4/19: Pat Ludwig retires.
4/18: Jaff Decker activated from disabled list and optioned to Indianapolis. Adam Miller assigned to WV Black Bears.
4/18: Junior Sosa sent to Bradenton. Barrett Barnes assigned to Extended Spring Training.
4/17: Brad Lincoln assigned to Indianapolis. Andy Vasquez assigned to Altoona.
4/17: Chris Stewart activated from disabled list. Tony Sanchez optioned to Indianapolis.
4/16: Jordan Luplow added to West Virginia Power. Jose Regalado transferred to West Virginia Black Bears.
4/16: Kelson Brown transferred to West Virginia Black Bears.
4/14: Jose Regalado added to West Virginia Power. Erik Forgione assigned to West Virginia Black Bears
4/14: Collin Balester assigned to Altoona.
4/13: Pirates release Jonathan Sandfort.
4/13: Francisco Liriano reinstated from paternity list. Casey Sadler optioned to Indianapolis.
4/12: Chris Stewart assigned to Indianapolis on rehab.
4/12: Justin Topa placed on Bradenton disabled list. Matt Benedict assigned to Bradenton from Altoona
This Date in Pirates History
Five former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, including a pitcher for a World Series winning team. Bob Johnson pitched for the Pirates from 1971 until 1973, going 9-10, 3.45 in 174.2 innings during the 1971 season. In the NLCS that year, Johnson started game three and defeated Juan Marichal. He lost game two of the World Series, but the Pirates still defeated the Orioles in seven games, winning their fourth World Series title. Johnson started his career with the 1969 Mets, who won their first World Series title that year.
Other former Pirates players born on this date include: Pitcher Brad Clontz(1999-2000), infielder Jimmy Brown(1946), third baseman Fred Hartman(1894) and catcher Tom Quinn(1886).
John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.
When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.
Glasnow gave up one run through 5 2/3. He looked a bit sloppy and got out of a few jams. Both pitchers seemed to pitch for a lot of contact today. I think the board was off but said he was pitching around the 90mph. It seemed faster and batters sent a lot of foul balls out to keep up. He must have hit his pitch count since he was pulled mid inning after a strikeout. Not sure on final stat line but his one walk was on a wild pitch so runners would have advanced either way. I was a cold game.
I also noticed Willie Garcia’s cannon arm. He gunned down a runner at the plate which makes Glasnows stat line a bit better. Josh Bell looks like a linebacker in size. Gift had a throwing error at s.s. but made up for it with a backhand flip past the second base side in what deserved to be a double play but only got one out. I had to leave in the 8th since my daughter’s not feeling well so I don’t know the final outcome of the game.
John: There are at least half of the teams in MLB who, if they had Tyler Glasnow at AA, would be counting down the days to when they would bring him up to the majors. And do not think that the Pirates have not given that some thought lately. A few years back St Louis did that with Wacha from AAA, who provided a big push for that team to just edge the Pirates for the NL Central title. Kingham could get to that point at AAA, but he is struggling right now. Taillon will be brought along slowly this year, and could be a June 2016 possibility.
Always good stuff and I have a comment about last night’s Pirate game. I watched two plays by AJ Pollock in CF last night and the first thing that came to my mind was that those balls would never have hit the ground against the Pirate OF.
If Glasnow looked like he did in his last start, more often, he would probably be coming up this year in June instead of next year. It’s a little too late for that kind of progress to happen, but if he showed that last year, it’s unlikely he would have stayed at High-A all year.
It will be hard for the Pirates to keep him down in the minors for 35-40 more starts if he keeps improving, so you may see what we heard with the Pirates last year, when it leaked that they offered Polanco a long-term deal while he was still in the minors. If he signs, then you see him in early April next year instead of June. Glasnow has to continue to pitch like he did last week first, so that is getting ahead of ourselves at the moment.
He needs to show he can use his change up with success to reach his ceiling. Not to mention throwing his fastball with command on a consistent start-to start basis before he gets moved up.
I think Pirates are smart to be on the slow side with him. Thankfully, they have that luxury.
You must be bored if you think that’s interesting…just kidding, made ya look though so haha and thanks john.