The West Virginia Black Bears began their inaugural season in their new home, Monongahela County Ballpark, located in Morgantown, WV. All the top dignitaries were on hand, from Pittsburgh Pirates’ owner Bob Nutting to the president of Minor League Baseball. Pirate great, Kent Tekulve, threw out the first pitch. With the amount of Pirate royalty on hand to christen the new park and team, it was only fitting that the Pirates’ number one rated prospect, Tyler Glasnow, would take the hill for the opener.
Glasnow, the imposing 6′ 8″ right-hander, was making his first rehab start since injuring his right ankle (drive leg), with the Double-A Curve. According to pitching coach Tom Filer, Glasnow “had not thrown much,” prior to tonight’s start. During his warmup, the rust was apparent. Glasnow, who throws very free and easy, sprayed his fastball and bounced curve after curve (the 59 foot variety).
Filer said that Glasnow was on a 50-pitch limit (he ended up only throwing 30), and he wasn’t concerned with the bullpen session. Filer said, “they were working on his change and curve.” When asked if they were looking for better control or break on the curve, he went on to say they were “looking for depth and consistency with the curve.”
Glasnow breezed through the first inning on just ten pitches. A swinging strike three and two weak ground balls were all the Scrappers (Indians affiliate) could muster. His fastball ranged from 95-97 MPH and he hit his spots. He even blew up the bat of the Scrappers number three hitter, who is left-handed, by pounding a fastball on his hands to induce the dribbler to second. It is those types of pitches that make Glasnow an elite prospect.
However, his pre-game control issues surfaced again in the second. Glasnow missed often and badly with his curve. He was consistently very wide to his glove side (outside to the right-handed hitters). He faced the four through nine hitters in the second, recording only one out, before being lifted. The good news is that there was only one hard hit ball (a deep drive to center that went for a double) off him in the inning. The bad news is that he walked a batter, hit another and missed his spots. After the number nine hitter reached on an error, Glasnow’s night came to a premature end.
Glasnow could have easily stood out on the mound and thrown fastball after fastball, as the Scrappers were clearly overmatched. However, that obviously was not the plan. He is just re-establishing himself and he is working on developing his curve. He hit as high as 98 with his fastball and his curve sat consistently, between 77-79 MPH which is a rather significant difference. He did not use his change, much, if at all.
After the game, Glasnow said that “health-wise” he felt good and that he did not expect to have command of his “soft stuff.” He only threw one changeup the entire night.
“Tyler wanted to throw his breaking ball,” Black Bears manager Wyatt Toregas said, which was a nod to development as opposed to being too consumed with results.
Through an interpreter, starting catcher Deybi Garcia said that Glasnow’s fastball had “very good movement.” It is also interesting to note that Garcia called the pitches; the pitch selection did not come from the bench.
There is no need to be concerned with this outing. This young man is intimidating on the mound and his fastball is electric. He was averaging just over three walks per nine innings with Altoona this season before being injured. Once he shakes off the rust, and regains command of his curve, he should return to his dominant form.