First Pitch: Glasnow Getting the Cole Treatment, 2016 Prospects, Blanton Analysis

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.


  • I know this is a dream but why not let the best players play. Glasnow is clearly on a roll and would not be the first 21 yr old to become a great major league pitcher. Sometimes you just have to go for it and this kid seems to be the special one that comes along very rarely. I know it’s money driven but would not winning the World Series be worth it? It’s time to throw a bit of caution to the wind and bring him up at an impact time. Sunday afternoon game against a rival and let him spark the entire Pirate nation (players and fans) to the pinnacle. It’s brewing let It happen.

    • Short sighted thinking at best. ” Spark the entire Pirate Nation ” ? These guys are professionals, it isn’t PSU vs Pitt football for God’s sake !

      • Been a long time since a World Series been in Pittsburgh. Short sighted no. So you saying these guys don’t get motivated by the same adrenaline that flows through college fans and athletes? Check your pulse.

  • Tom…why would they bring up Taillon in 2016?

    His inning are sure to be limited and they will want to avoid Super Two. Plus, he hasn’t pitched in two years!

    They would need a SP to start the season until June and one to end it once he is shut down.

    I see him coming up in 2017. He hardly has any AAA inn under his belt and combine that with not hardly pitching in two years…..very unlikely, imo.

    • I’m trying to think of a recent example where an almost-MLB-ready pitcher has taken a full 1+ years of rehabbing in minors due to a TJ and I’m not finding one. If JT is on track to be a June callup, he’ll be a June callup, IMO.

    • Darkstone42
      July 30, 2015 1:19 pm

      If he shows he’s ready, he’ll be up. If he doesn’t, he won’t. It’s probably exactly that simple.

      If Tim is to be believed (I guess he probably is), Taillon looked like he had his mechanics and command in order, so there might not be a lot for him to work on in AAA once healthy, thus a 2016 callup.

      • And, Broadway indicated he would start throwing again soon and the Pirates will not be as deliberate in this rehab as they were after the TJ surgery. I see him pitching at AAA before this season ends, and possibly a call-up in September. Start at AAA in 2016 and be in Pittsburgh in June, along with Glasnow.

        AJ will be gone, and Morton will be in his last year of his 3yr/$21 mil contract. Based on 2014 and 2015 so far, Morton will be in the Rotation early and then be moved to the BP. At that point the Rotation will be Cole, Liriano, Glasnow, Taillon, and Locke.

    • Even assuming his innings will be limited, why in the hell would they rather have them used in AAA if there is a need at the Major League level?

      You’re overthinking this one, bud.

    • Wrong lee wrong . And need I remind you, Cole never impressed you at all.

  • Tim–The Pirates–whom I follow closely daily–have gotten heat for their highly touted “minor league system,” which hasn’t produced hitters or pitchers when the major league team needed them–unlike other organizations.
    Part of Glasnow’s promotion, I think, is PR to show the fans they have young talent moving up the food chain. I also would not be as surprised as you if he is with the big team, even before September if they continue to have pitching issues.

    • “which hasn’t produced hitters or pitchers when the major league team needed them–unlike other organizations”

      I’ve seen this argument, and it is total BS. It’s all based on the fact that they called up Brent Morel after a bunch of injuries and poor performance. They lost Mercer (drafted and developed in the system) and Harrison (almost fully developed in the system) to injuries, then saw Sean Rodriguez (acquired for a drafted player) struggle.

      So after the system developed two options that were injured, and led to a trade for one more that was struggling, they didn’t have an option at one specific position for three days. And the argument here is basically “they should have drafted an additional third baseman 5-7 years ago, knowing they’d have this specific need now”. They even had someone like that, Brock Holt, who they traded in the deal for the guy who is currently one of the best relievers in baseball.

      In previous years, the farm system has produced what they needed. Where would they have been in 2013/2014 without Brandon Cumpton stepping in as a filler for the rotation? Casey Sadler did the same thing for one start this year.

      Expecting the farm system to produce endless options at every position, no matter how many injuries come up, is unrealistic. Criticizing the farm system for not producing options after the options it did produce went down is also off base. It’s just a completely unrealistic view of how things should work.

      All of that said, the Pirates don’t care at all about PR when it comes to minor league promotions. They’re not going to promote their top prospect because a few writers who have never seen 99% of the prospects in the system have irrationally complained about said system.

      • But the Cardinals, Tim. TEH CARDINALS.

        • Interesting to see if Moss reverts back to regular splits. If he continues the reserve splits he’s had in 2015, can’t see how he’s going to add much value to Cards.

        • Darkstone42
          July 30, 2015 1:14 pm

          Heh, I love those “TEH CARDINALS” comments, especially with the performances of guys like 9-years-in-the-minors-Tommy Pham and Peter Bourjos this year. Their depth hasn’t exactly been spotless, either.

          • Pham is a perfect example of how the Cardinals get over-hyped. He came up, had a few good games, and has since been horrible. But those few good games last forever, and no one pays attention to everything after.

            If Pham was on the Pirates, it would be the opposite. The good games would be ignored because he hasn’t done anything since.

            Here is a perfect example of that:

            Pham – .606 OPS in 49 PA
            Jaff Decker – .648 OPS in 17 PA
            Brent Morel – .714 OPS in 7 PA, and had a game winning hit
            Corey Hart – .597 OPS in 57 PA

            Pham is seen as some success, while everyone hates the other three. And I’m not saying those three should be seen as a success. I’m saying guys like Pham are unjustifiably over-hyped for one big moment. This would be like Cardinals fans complaining that the Pirates always bring up guys like Morel, all because of that one big hit.

            • Cards have also done great job of bringing core guys who were great value where they were drafted. Lynn, wacha, wong, carpenter (admittedly a steal), Adams before he got hurt. Those were great value picks and are not prospects anymore but very good mlb ball players. Hopefully taillon, meadows, McGuire and josh bell among others are very good mlb players in the not too distant future. And hopefully we have a late round steal to rival carpenter(perhaps moroff who knows). The cards have been exceptional at drafting and developing talent as well as being pretty good in free agency. The pirates have been great in free agency/trades and hopefully our prospects prove to be good at mlb level or get good ball players via trade

              • When healthy, a PGH starting lineup looks like this (imma mess up the order, its not the point):

                Kang now obviously part of that. But above, is 8 of 9 position players that spent 95% or more of their development in this system. Yes, they fill the bullpen with cheap outside arms and supplant the rotation well while HS arms develop. But nearly the entire lineup is homegrown.

                • But… but… but… Cutch, Walker and Marte are LITTLEFIELD GUYS!!!!

                  • Lol nice. I keep fighting the fight over the “Marte is a DL guy”. Yeah, DL and Co signed him. Everything after that (which is a poop ton) is NH.

      • Fair, but…let’s keep it generic.
        Who in the Bucs system do you think will be their next MLB slugger and approximately when–Jones, Bell, Garcia, Broxton?
        I look at Bryant, Pederson, Adams (last year for Cards), etc. and I don’t see anyone like that in the PBC system.

        • First of all, Matt Adams isn’t even a good hitter. Complete product of the Cardinals Hype Machine. Nobody would be crowing about a platoon lefty who has gotten significantly worse each year he’s been in the league if he were playing for the San Diego Padres.

          Second, and more importantly, you’re still missing Tim’s point with that question. By specifying “next MLB slugger”, you’re quite literally doing the exact opposite of keeping it “generic”. That’s like criticizing the Cardinals for not having a Tyler Glasnow ready to call up next year.

          • But the Cards were able to harvest a couple of decent bats from their farm – Piskotty and Girchek are OK and have filled in. They show the willingness to make a move the Bucs should have at least considered in landing Moss – he is low risk and gives them OF/1B option – his BABiP is very low but he is hitting the ball hard – would not take much for him to provide two months of good offense. The best the BMTIBB can come up with is Joe Blanton?

            • PGH solved a gaping hole in the IF with Ramirez, a guy at least as good an option as Moss (id argue better since Moss Ks far too much and kinda sucks this year).

              Amazing how we ignore what we gotta to act like PGH isnt willing to upgrade when needed. You gotta make Brandon Moss a good player this year to justify the idea that adding him was a good option.

              • More than that, it’s almost like people would be HAPPIER if the Pirates traded better prospects for shitty players.

                Because at least then they tried, amirite?

                • It’d all be great until they didnt win a WS that year, and in two years missed the thing they trade. “WHY doesnt NH find a good X player”.

            • Blanton and ramirez
              Cishek and moss

              If we want to look at the whole picture if the trade scene thus far… maybe a slight edge to the cards but cishek isn’t far from being sent down earlier this season (and is making a lot of money for a reliever) and moss doesn’t have remarkable numbers. Blanton isn’t a sexy pick up but ramirez (even with his allow start in Pittsburgh) should be considered a steal…

              • You have to factor in that the Cards gave up Kaminsky to get Moss too. Which is A LOT if you ask me. Bucs gave up nothing for the two guys above. Plus you can’t say they’re done dealing yet.

              • Walton Cook
                July 30, 2015 4:43 pm

                Tim, I am writing late as I am in a Western Time zone. I will respond to your original text: Glasnow suddenly called up to AAA. I am surprised too but there are advantages for Tyler:

                1. He will be playing in bigger ball parks and traveling with his coaches and teammates. Also playing with new catchers framing the strike zone
                2. This will prepare him for the remainder of the season and will continue in Spring Training.
                3. He will continue his development in ST perhaps learning new pitches
                4 Melencon and Cervelli played with with the Yankees and know of Riviera’s great relief pitching. Melencon has the great sinker of success that Riviera had.
                5. That said, if Glasnow develops a good cutter/sinker pitch, it will be lights out for opposition hitters in 2016 and thereafter.

                Tim, you can archive this if you wish:)

          • I think Adams being from the Pittsburgh area also helps with that hype from Pirates fans. Having never lived in Pittsburgh, I don’t understand it, but there’s a huge valuation that is placed on guys who came from the area.

        • If you actually keep it generic:

          2012 Starling Marte arrives in PGH.
          2013 Cole shows up.
          2014 Polanco gets the call.

          Criticizing the system for not having a major prospect (bat or arm) after 3 straight years of promoting a top talent seems odd.

        • If you’re talking about someone who could be an impact position player, I’d say Bell. I also think Austin Meadows could have that potential down the line.

      • harris not drafted by pirates but good trade, cummpton /sadler cup of coffee, s.rod was on waivers last year so why did they give up assets over the winter, cole ,duh , pedro not a bust but not an all star. marte / polanco are rene gayo guys and he had the same job under both gm’s. the holt part of trade was bad for the pirates because Hannahan was the best player at that time so you kind of gave holt up for stolomy. to sum up, mercer pedro cole in 7yrs of drafting.maybe its time for rene to come state side, better results smaller budget.

    • Once again Maloni,you are the winner of the dumbest comment of the day award.

  • BuccosFanStuckinMD
    July 30, 2015 10:12 am

    I would move Glasnow up to replace Morton in the rotation, if he shows he is still dominant in AAA for the next 3-4 starts…

    • You might do that, but fortunately, the Pirates are a lot smarter than that.

      • BuccosFanStuckinMD
        July 30, 2015 10:47 am

        Oh, okay…if you say so. Sort of like they were smarter than me when they traded Bryan Morris for a draft pick, and used the pick on Conner Joe??

        • This comment is your baseball knowledge in a nutshell.

          • Cue the Patrick Stewart “Not this ish again” facepalm meme…

            • I always seem to miss these fun conversations in real-time… Bucs system may not be the best, but it’s pretty darn close based on what all the experts think, as well as performance the last 5 or 6 years.

        • I feel for ya here, because this was your go to “i had this so right and the team looks dumb” example and its bad.

        • Yeah, if you were running the organization, the Pirates might even be 18 games over .500…..oh, wait….

      • why, except for rene gayo ,state side drafting in 7 yrs has produced pedro 1st rd 2nd pick, jordy mercer and cole at 1rd 1st pick. now they hit on cole so they get a tip of the cap for not messing that pick up.

        • Well that, and the prospects needed to get Wandy Rodriguez, Francisco Cervelli, and Mark Melancon plus what should be 2/5 of the starting rotation right now in the form of Taillon and Kingham.

          I know I know, those don’t count according to the ones pushing the narrative.

        • My favorite part of this whole awful logic train is the fact that the Kansas City Royals and Dayton Moore are now everyone’s darling.

          The majority of their most valuable players were home grown, except they were all drafted between 2004-2008 and just last year turned the corner. Because anyone who understand baseball understands that baseball takes time. Folks will look back at Dejan’s latest rant and laugh at how wrong he turns out to be, just like they did last time he went off on a tangent like this.

          • I missed it. What did Dejan say now?

          • Seriously though – for someone who lives outside of the city what happened to him? He was the first guy I followed and then suddenly he seemed to get sour or bitter but more importantly no longer objective which is why I liked him in the first place.

            • DK does not like NH these days. I think that really started when he learned that Neal was sitting on money that Nutting had authorized to spend. Neal didn’t spend it and DK found that irresponsible.

            • Still love him, but he’s increasingly out of touch with the Pirates and has seemingly held some weird grudge against Huntington/analytics for quite a while now. Reading him feels like it’s pulling teeth to give NH any credit.

              Sad because he’s so much better than that, but everyone is human and his job is to give opinion, not fact.

        • How great has the Nationals drafting been ? Strasberg and Harper you say ?

  • Thought experiment for the upcoming Super 2 debates while most of us are snowed in this winter: when was the last time anyone complained or insinuated that Neil Walker’s salary this year or next kept the Pirates from bringing in or keeping a player they wanted?

    Not one of those hitting prospects are at all likely to end up appreciably better players than Neil Walker, if it all, and neither of the pitchers will be ready in time for it to make a difference.

    But we will need something to talk about.

    • I have, indirectly. And I suppose most anyone who’s said Walker needs to move to 1b in 2016 has as well. Because by keeping Walker at 2b, he’s blocking Hanson while at the same time requiring significant $$$ to acquire a competent 1b. And that’s $$$ that could be better spent elsewhere.

      To me, this is an easy choice because I’m not looking at MLB averages, I’m looking at it relative to the Bucs specifically. Walker would provide a higher WAR than any Bucs 1b in past few years. Hanson may not equal Walker’s 2b WAR right away, but taken together, I don’t see how it’s not an upgrade.

      • Excellent points, but I hope that Alvarez does so well down the stretch that somebody will have to pry him from us during the off-season or at the trading deadline in 2016. It will take about 15 minutes for Walker to learn all he needs to move to 1B.

      • So what does Super 2 have to do with non-tendering Alvarez, moving Walker to 1B, and calling up Hanson?

        • Because keeping Walker at 2b would basically be holding Hanson down, with the implication that until Walker was dealt, Hanson wouldn’t arrive. That’s why I said “indirectly” in my opening sentence.

          fwiw, I don’t think there’s a chance Alvarez gets non-tendered. He’ll get traded for something in offseason as long as Neal doesn’t have to eat salary.

  • I missed two outstanding overwhelming pitching performances I saw here in Atoona in either 1999 or 2000. Ramon Ortiz, with Erie (then Angels) came in and threw a 3 hitter that was terrific….then came back with an even more dominant 1 hitter later that Summer. The only issue was that he wasn’t age appropriate as claimed. Turned out he was a few years older and should have been in AAA or even MLB.

  • I know I don’t have to preach to you Tim, but I have never in 17 seasons seen any pItching prospect so totally dominate hitters in the EL. Pat at WhyGavs took issue with me when I mentioned that even Cole was not nearly as effective in Altoona, but I’m sticking to what I have seen. The next most dominant prospect that I have seen since 1999 was C.C. Sabathia with Akron, but I only saw him twice. Even Verlander never looked as overwhelming as Glasnow.

    • leo: Have never seen him except on video, but his numbers jump off the page. Sometimes our own deliberate manner gets in the way of the truly unique standouts. I favor challenging our very top prospects and moving them early rather than allow the possibility of complacency to sneak in if the challenge is not adequate. We have found that whether moved quickly or deliberately, it has no effect on the possibility of injury. So, why wait.

      • He was overwhelming even early in the season, but it was easy to see that he wasn’t ready to move up. I think they have handled him very well myself. I could see his improvement from May till his recovery. His changeup, fastball command and curve ball usage was much different….and better.

    • .169 batting average against for his career, best ever or since1992 when they starting keeping this stat. my prediction aug 21 2015 first start in the bigs for glasnow. also has his name change by removing the L in his last name. GASNOW sounds way cooler.

  • Depending on how he finishes this year AJ might be available for one more, who knows.

    With all the injuries Taillon, Glasnow are uncertain. Pirates need at least one starting pitcher to step up in mid 2016 and it now looks like Glasnow may be at the top of the list.

  • Called the Blanton acquisition couple of days ago. Not on 25 man yet… who goes? I’m guessing Guerra, even though he’s least of the three problem guys.

    Assuming Neal is kicking tires on Joe Thornton as well as he’s another freebie.

    • bucs: good call and I commented on another thread that I thought Guerra had more velocity. BTW, are you going to change that handle to bucsws2015 anytime soon? What do you think of Zach Duke?

      • The screen name will never change.

        As to ZD, no, I don’t see it. Numbers within the numbers say that since last year’s ASG, Duke has a 7.16 ERA and 1.65 WHIP vs. NL Central teams not named Pirates. Particularly iffy vs. Cards. Yeah, SSS, but that’s a red flag.

        And if they’re interested in Duke, Joe Thatcher is basically same guy, but available for free.

  • Thanks tim, I thought the blanton move was ok and even expected it when he was dfaed. It just had nh writen all over it. I’m guessing the next move will be either morse or napoli with maybe a back end starter or another reliever as a surprise finish.

    • They don’t need a back end starter. If they aren’t going to get a 3 or better they should just stay put. McGee or Boxberger from Tampa for the pen sounds good.

      • Pirates aren’t going to overpay to get a reliever, and that’s what it’ll take to get either one of those two.

      • McGee is very strong; not so much for Box. McGee will cost both in prospect(s) and he will make probably $5.5 or $6 mil in Arbitration for 2016; probably $8 mil for 2017, then FA. He strikes people out, but the Pirates also want a decent number for GO/AO. The future money is something that may inspire TB to let him go.

        Here’s another thought – Zach Duke. BABIP of .255, a 2.08 GO/AO, and he has maintained about a 25% rate of DP’s/DP Opportunities over the past 3 years. Duke will cost us about $1.5 mil for the rest of 2015 and he has a contract for $5 mil in 2016, and $5.5 mil in 2017, which used to sound high until you actually start looking for a LHRP worth anything.

        • Not a bad idea emjay. I have seen him pitch a couple of times in the last 2 weeks and he looked like he did last season. Earlier in the season he wasn’t good as at all.

        • I like the idea of adding Duke. The only issue is that latest reports have the White Sox keeping Samardzija and becoming “buyers” instead of “sellers.” So, they might not part with big league talent.

        • Makes sense……

      • piraterican21
        July 30, 2015 10:18 am

        Those are the two names I keep hoping for, if force to chose, I’ll take McGee, not only would he be an great add, but if the team does trade Meloncon (sp) next year he will step in and we could recoup some of the prospects lost, but Tampa is still in it,so I don’t see this happening. Instead of Duke, there’s another dfa, one that might be the perfect Pirates project, Felix Dubrount, lefty with a heavy ground ball tendency