I’ve got to admit, I was very surprised to hear that Tyler Glasnow was getting promoted to Triple-A. It’s not that he didn’t deserve the promotion. It’s not that it seemed completely impossible. But looking at the history for the Pirates, it definitely seemed improbable.
I’ve pointed out a few times this year that the Pirates tend to give their starting pitching prospects about 150 innings at the Double-A level before moving them up. That includes sending guys back to the level for half a season, even if they had good numbers in their first run through Altoona.
The one exception here was Gerrit Cole, who only spent 59 innings in Altoona. When he was moved up, there were rumblings inside the organization that he wasn’t ready for the move. It was a move that was mostly made to get him into the post-season in Indianapolis, although from a command and statistical standpoint, he didn’t look totally ready.
Glasnow now joins Cole in that rare group — a group that doesn’t include other top pitching prospects like Jameson Taillon and Nick Kingham. I wouldn’t read that as a negative on anyone else, but a positive on Glasnow and how the Pirates view him. And the best part is that he actually looks ready.
There are still things for Glasnow to work on. As Sean McCool has written recently, the changeup has shown improvements, but it’s not consistently improved yet. The walks are way down this year, which is good, but Triple-A will be a new test for those issues. But it didn’t seem like he needed to work on those in Altoona any longer.
None of this really changes his ETA to the majors. He’s still likely to come up by the middle of 2016, and don’t expect him to move into that David Price role in September. I was surprised that they moved him up to Indianapolis. I’d be completely shocked if they called him up to Pittsburgh early just to be a middle reliever. One move had precedent, and Glasnow was a good enough pitcher to follow the rare trend. The other move has no precedent, and the Pirates have said nothing that indicates they’d take that approach with Glasnow.
Speaking of future call-ups, next year’s prospect group could be scary. Along with Glasnow, the Pirates will expect to see Josh Bell and Jameson Taillon called up at some point. That doesn’t include other top prospects like Alen Hanson, Elias Diaz, and others who might need an injury to occur in order to seal their spots. The Super 2 debates are going to be insane.
It’s a long way off, but the current rotation at the start of the year in 2016 would have Gerrit Cole, Francisco Liriano, Charlie Morton, Jeff Locke, and Vance Worley. Expect the Pirates to be active on that front between now and Spring Training. They’re not going with prospects on day one, but they’re also not going to bank on just five starters. They probably won’t bank on six or seven either. Glasnow and Taillon will most likely fill the role of mid-season depth.
Speaking of pitching and depth, the Pirates added Joe Blanton tonight in a minor trade. I don’t think much of the move. It’s not a bad move, but it’s also not a great move. Blanton has no business in the rotation, but his numbers have been good out of the bullpen. With the exception of Mark Melancon, Tony Watson, and Jared Hughes, the Pirates’ bullpen has been a mess. Blanton’s numbers have been good, and if you can add a good reliever to this group while giving up nothing in return, you make that move. He’s not going to provide a huge impact, and you’re not getting a 2014 Royals level bullpen by adding him to the group. But he could just end up being a reliable arm in the pen, and you can never have too many of those.
**Tyler Glasnow Promoted to Indianapolis. Sean McCool broke the news this morning, and had details on his progression in the article.
**Pirates Acquire Joe Blanton From Royals. John Dreker breaks down the numbers for Blanton this year.
**Prospect Watch: Radhames Liz Throws Six Shutout Innings, Escobar Shines in GCL. I don’t really trust Liz, but I’d trust him more than Blanton as rotation depth with the success he’s having as a starter.
**Pirates Trade Jayson Aquino to Cleveland Indians. They got him in a minor trade, and sent him out in a minor trade. Cleveland becomes the next team to take a flier on him.
**Gregory Polanco Removed from Game with Injury. Polanco has been hitting well this month. You hope that this won’t throw off his progress.
**Injury Updates: Jameson Taillon, Clay Holmes, Gift Ngoepe. Sean McCool gets updates on why Holmes was pulled early, and how Taillon’s rehab could go.
**Morning Report: Pirates Have a Tough Schedule Ahead. John Dreker breaks down the remaining 2015 schedule.