Morning Report: Tyler Glasnow Makes His Altoona Debut

For Altoona tonight, Tyler Glasnow will make his first start of the season. The top prospect in the Pittsburgh Pirates system is making the big leap to AA, where he will start to see more patient hitters and his control issues will be put to the test. Glasnow will see the occasional player with Major League experience now and plenty of players that have played in AAA. The only time he would have seen a player like that during his first three seasons is facing someone on a rehab assignment. The average age of the Harrisburg lineup he will be facing is 24.1 years old.

The higher you go up the minor league ladder, the better the competition. That’s an obvious statement, but the main fault with Tyler Glasnow has been control issues and for him to succeed at the Major League level, that is going to have to improve. He will also need his third pitch(change-up) to be more than just a show-me pitch. He has shown improvements in both of his weak areas, but there is still more work to do. That is why the Pirates won’t be rushing a 21-year-old to the Majors, despite all the accolades he picked up over the off-season and all the prospect lists that put him in the top twenty in baseball. There aren’t many starters in the big leagues that can get by with two pitches, especially if they have some issues with control.

While his first start is a big one this year, it is just one start. If he goes out and has a great game, I wouldn’t expect him to just sail through AA without any hiccups. If he has a really poor outing, I wouldn’t chalk it up to anything more than just him being a very young pitcher with things to work on this season. When I say young, not only am I talking about his age, I mean young for the level he is at this year. There are currently only three younger pitchers in the Eastern League.

So, yes this is a big start for Glasnow and for the fans anticipating his arrival in Pittsburgh, but don’t take too much from it. His ETA won’t be changing no matter how good or bad he does tonight. As Tim alluded to in the super two article from Friday, it’s too early to talk about his estimated arrival date because it will likely be a big subject for the first few months of the 2016 season, especially if he pitches this year like he has the last two seasons and fans want him in Pittsburgh on Opening Day(or even this September). Glasnow has the potential to be a special pitcher for the Pirates and he is taking a big step towards that goal tonight, but he is far from a polished pitcher at this point and some bumps in the road at Altoona are to be expected. It’s how he bounces back from those bad starts that will show you how good he could actually be one day.

I plan on listening to the Altoona game and commenting, good or bad, on Glasnow’s performance. So if you don’t follow me on Twitter already, but like updates from the minor leagues as games are in progress, please follow along at @JohnDreker

Pirates Game Graph

Source: FanGraphs

Today’s Schedule

Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pirates won 6-2 on Friday night in the first game of a three-game series against the Brewers. It was the first win of the season for the Pirates. Vance Worley gets the start today after initially losing out the battle for the fifth spot in the rotation. He regained his role from last year when Charlie Morton was placed on the disabled list. In 17 starts and one relief appearance last year, Worley had a 2.85 ERA, 79 strikeouts and a 1.21 WHIP in 110.2 innings.

In the minors, top prospect Tyler Glasnow will make his season debut and AA debut tonight. Last year for Bradenton, he had a 1.74 ERA in 124.1 innings, with 154 strikeouts and a .174 BAA. For Indianapolis, Chris Volstad makes his debut in the Pirates’ system. He has made 123 starts and seven relief appearances in the Majors, but spent last season in AAA and barely pitched in the Majors during the 2013 season. The 28-year-old righty was signed in the off-season as a minor league free agent and is hoping to turn his career around with the Pirates. Frank Duncan was a 13th round draft pick of the Pirates last year. He was skipped over Low-A ball after pitching for Jamestown last year. You can view last night’s prospect watch here.

MLB: Pittsburgh (1-3)  @ Brewers (0-4) 7:10 PM
Probable starter: Vance Worley (NR)

AAA: Indianapolis (0-2) vs Columbus (2-0) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Chris Volstad (NR)

AA: Altoona (1-1) @ Harrisburg (1-1) 6:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Tyler Glasnow (NR)

High-A: Bradenton (0-2) vs St Lucie (2-0) 6:30 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Frank Duncan (NR)

Low-A: West Virginia (2-0) vs Savannah (0-2) 2:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Dovydas Neverauskas (NR)


From Thursday in Indianapolis, we have two highlights. One from a player returning to the system this season, while the other was just recently picked up in a trade with the Milwaukee Brewers. Yesterday, we had a feature article on Gorkys Hernandez and what the Pirates see in him beyond his defense. Lets not get ahead of ourselves though, because the defense is outstanding in center field and he showed it off when he made this nice catch on Thursday.

Hunter Morris played his first game as a member of the Pirates organization and he had two hits, including this double. The 26-year-old first baseman spent his first six seasons with the Brewers, who drafted him in the fourth round in 2010.

Recent Transactions

4/9: Chris Stewart assigned to Altoona on rehab. Jaff Decker assigned to Indianapolis on rehab.

4/7: Pirates release Matt Nevarez, Andrew Dennis and Dwight Childs.

4/5: Pirates recall Rob Scahill, designate Stolmy Pimentel and Pedro Florimon for assignment.

4/5: Pirates place Charlie Morton, Brandon Cumpton, Jaff Decker, Justin Sellers and Chris Stewart on the disabled list.

4/2: Pirates acquire first baseman Hunter Morris from the Milwaukee Brewers for a player to be named later.

4/1: Pirates release Danny Collins, Joan Montero, Will Kendall, Remy De Aza, Raul Fortunato, Taylor Lewis, Colter Moore and Cory Rhodes.

3/31: John Holdzkom and Rob Scahill optioned to AAA, Blake Wood assigned to minor league camp.

This Date in Pirates History

There have been four former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, including an outfielder who made quite a memorable impression. Turner Ward, who played for the Pirates from 1997 until 1999, didn’t have much of a Major League career, but he is famous for one play in particular. On May 3rd, 1998, Ward was in right field for the Pirates and on a deep line drive by Mike Piazza, Ward made a spectacular catch and then crashed through the outfield wall. If you’ve never seen the play, or just want to watch it again and again, I’ve included the video. Ward turns 50 today.

  • Glasnow’s off to a solid start tonight. 2 hits, a walk, and 3 strikeouts through 2.

    • Two more walks and two more strikeouts in the 3rd. Still scoreless.

      • Another walk and another strikeout in the 4th. This is just like last year before he got on that run of better control…

        • And Glasgow ends his 5 shutout innings with 3 routine grounders to short. 5 innings 4 BB and 6 SO. A typical high A start in AA for the big righty.

  • Lee Foo Young
    April 11, 2015 9:34 am

    They started the season here in Harrisburg. Do you think he could’ve started one of those games? Nooooooooooooooooo.

    They save him for the home opener! grumble, grumble.

    • Glasnow isn’t starting in Altoona till next Thursday, the 16th, the way I hear it Lee. That would make tonight’s start in Harrisburg. By the way, you can stream that broadcast through the Curve website.

      • That is true. Barring weather issues between now and then, he will start on the 16th in Altoona.

    • I think the confusion was on my part, just bad wording in that one sentence, which I changed. I was basically just saying he is pitching for Altoona tonight, not actually saying they were in Altoona. The game is in Harrisburg so you can go if you want and report back here with details.

    • Looks like you better go hop in the car lee and get to the ballpark, when you get there have a juniata dog for me.

    • lonleylibertarian
      April 12, 2015 10:05 am

      They have these things called cars 😏
      And you are a lot closer to Altoona then me (Florida)
      A nice Saturday drive to give us your perspective doesn’t seem too much to ask ⚾️