Tyler Glasnow Gets Votes as Best Pitching Prospect in the Minors

Jonathan Mayo did a survey among general managers, scouting directors and front office executives, asking them who they thought was the best pitching prospect in baseball. Out of the 20 who responded, Tyler Glasnow received two votes as the best pitcher. Glasnow was one of seven pitchers who received votes and one of only four who received more than one vote.

Quoting the article linked above, one executive compared Glasnow to the top vote-getter, Lucas Giolito of the Washington Nationals:

“I like Giolito’s stuff, more power and more swing-and-miss [pitches], but Glasnow’s delivery and arm action are cleaner and he’s more likely to stay healthy long term,” he said. “If the question is top pitching prospect in baseball right now, then Giolito. If it’s who will have the best Major League career when it’s all said and done, it’s Glasnow.”

That’s strong praise for Glasnow, who should join the Pirates around mid-season this year. He may be the top prospect in the system and one of the best in baseball, but he still needs to work on a few things before making the majors, specifically his command of secondary pitches, holding runners on base and polishing his change-up.

I have seen multiple people worry about his inning total from this season and if he will be able to pitch the entire season, so this is a good spot to address those concerns. Glasnow only threw 109.1 innings during the regular season, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. He also made two starts in the playoffs, throwing a total of 11.2 innings, giving him 121 innings during the year. After the playoffs ended, Glasnow went to the Fall Instructional League, where he continued to throw regularly for the next month, playing in actual games during that time. He also threw three bullpens during the season when he was returning from his ankle injury.

All of that throwing is taken into account when figuring out how many innings he can pitch next year, not just his regular season total, which means he can should be able to pitch regularly into October, since he pitched regularly into mid-October this year. You usually hear that young pitchers can add 30-40 innings per year as a guideline, so he should be able to throw upwards of 180 innings this year. Of course, it’s not just a straight up comparison. Pitch count is also taken into account and Glasnow worked hard during some of his AAA innings this year, so there shouldn’t be any worries about his inning limitations in 2016. If the Pirates have any concern, they can start him slower at the beginning of the year, so it doesn’t affect the end of the year.

  • Excellent points and information on how well thought of this young man is around the world of MLB. That was a mouthful of what he needs to work on at AAA – “command of secondary pitches, holding runners on base, and polishing his changeup.” I think it is possible to complete his training on one and three, but holding runners on base is going to be an ongoing thing for him in coming years. I hope we realize that was sacrificed to allow him to work on simply throwing the ball without regard to holding baserunners, and now is not the time to try to change his delivery.

    • From the time that Morton`s salary was disposed of, I thought the purpose of doing that was to clear room in the budget to help sign a solid #3 starter, thereby pushing Niese to #4 and Locke to #5. But after they signed Vogelsong, my thinking changed and I became a lot less optimistic. And as more and more free agents become unavailable, I`m thinking more and more that the Pirates have more confidence in JT and/or TG than we fans might think they do. Perhaps JT for example is a lot more ready than people might think? I certainly hope so because its looking less and less like they intend to commit big dollars to a solid veteran #3 starter.

      • This off-season the Pirates had a big decision to make, and, IMO, they have made that decision aggressively. They are full bore into transitioning this ballclub for the next 5 or 6 years, not just for 2016. They have parted ways with long-time Pirates Pedro Alvarez, Neil Walker, Charlie Morton, and have watched AJ Burnett retire. So far they have returned Jon Niese, who can be a #3, but his most important asset is his contract. They may not be done yet, but the contract for a #3 will have to be club friendly. They have total confidence in the System they have developed and are committed to using it this year.

        During 2016 we will see new position players in Josh Bell, Alen Hanson, and Jason Rogers. We will also see new SP’s in Jameson Taillon, Tyler Glasnow, and possibly Chad Kuhl, Nick Kingham, and/or one or two others for SP/RP duty. The Cubs did it successfully last year with position players, and the Pirates are going to take them a step further adding a lot of new position players and pitchers also. A 25% change in the active roster is very possible, and, if successful, possibly even higher than that.

    • If he is walking people, he needs to hold on runners or he is going to end up with a lot of free doubles. Improving control for a pitcher whom doesn’t allow many hits is equally as important as holding those walks to first base. You can’t, for the first time in your professional career, try to start holding on runners at the MLB level against base stealers 15 times better than anything you faced in AAA, it’s just plain stupid. Unfortunately, we haven’t been immune to stupid the last few years.

  • What scares me about TG and JT is the chance that when they come up they have a bad period of adjustment, a la stud prospect Tijuan Walker last year. Something like that from 2 parts of our rotation could ruin our season.

    • Thats the challenge for the Pirates. How do they blend in at least 6 rookies over the next two years with out mailing in the season.

  • Speaking of adding to the pitching roster – I’ve got two thoughts / questions on that that haven’t actually been answered I don’t think.
    1. Are we convinced that the team isn’t actually banking on the quality of performance of the talent ready to come up in their decision to be lets say exeptionally patient with the FA’s this offseason?
    2. It seems like the contract Maeda signed is super complicated – maybe the most complicated ever with a one year opt out? That is a super beneficial concept for player and super not beneficial for team IMO. I don’t recall ever hearing of such a deal, Tim? If they do well they get FA and if they such they still get the big bucks it took to sign them. lol wow. Is this yet another potential obstacle for the PBC – how might it affect the team good or bad?

  • Taking nothing away from Glasnow, those lists made me appreciate just how damn impressive 2015’s rookie class turned out to be.

    As for Glasnow himself, I’m more worried about quality of performance as innigs rack up rather than number. He seems to have regressed after the 100 inning mark or so two years in a row, although John would be the authority on the number and opinion. Massive amount of expectations placed on Glasnow to not only impact the rotation in 2016, but do it through October at a high level.

    Still, that’s a roster management issue more than it is a Glasnow issue. Shouldn’t hold that against him as a prospect and future stud big leaguer.

    • I hope they aren’t holding back on picking up more this off-season by banking on Glasnow, Taillon and Bell being saviors. I could see all three not being ready on June 10th when the Super 2 passes and I think/hope they know that as well. I think this year just seems to be slow with free agent signings and would will see more moves from now until possibly as late as Opening Day.

      You have to assume they will sign another starting pitcher because they have almost zero depth and they have shown that they won’t go into a season without depth. What type of starter they add is the unknown now. They could go anywhere from a #3 down to AAA starter with some MLB experience like Chris Volstad last year.

      You also have to assume they will add a lefty in the pen, as well as some bench help, either infield and/or outfield.

      So I say the minimum is three more players added who will contribute in 2016. To what degree, we just have to wait to find out.

      As for Glasnow, he said he hit a wall this year and it was probably due to tougher innings in AAA, but I think that helps him in a way to mentally and physically prepare for next year. I don’t know exactly how much he threw in the FIL, but I talked to some players who threw 18+ innings, so he was probably in that same group. I did get some great reports on him during a game vs the Orioles when he just manhandled them, so he was strong in late October into November

      • Absolutely. But I suspect that they are indeed counting on those three rookies to be very good. The only other two reasonable explanations of the off-season are 1) pure salary dumps/cheapness 2) that major moves are still going to be made. The only way I can see this off-season is that the team expects Bell, Glasnow and Taillon up this year and playing well. And they didn’t want to sign a good SP with those two SPs coming up in June.

      • I believe this analysis is correct. The Pirates cannot start the season as currently configured and expect to succeed. They need a legitimate starter and another lefty, and at least one more strong bat with multi-position capabilities. The new talent won’t be up until June, and that is as it should be….plus there will be an adjustment period. Many have commented on the slow free agent market and I hope that is what is at work with the Bucs.
        However, I am convinced that 40 days without snow at Seven Springs and Hidden Valley and the $10-15M in losses racked up there are having a direct effect on the Pirates 2016 payroll. I would like to be proven wrong.

  • Fwiw, Giolito threw 117 innings. Not much difference. Be cool to see how Nats handle him, compared to Glasnow. Especially with Dr Andrews favorite manager Dusty Baker in charge.

    • You can use the innings pitched comparison with Giolito to show that all innings aren’t created equal. He threw 117 innings, but faced 494 batters. That’s one more batter than Glasnow saw in 2014 in 124.1 innings, and we know Glasnow worked hard in those innings due to command issues. The Nats would(or should) look at the fact he worked hard during those innings and judge him based on that for next year.

      If Glasnow improves his command, he could add ten innings easy without actually throwing any extra.

      • piraterican21
        January 2, 2016 11:31 am

        Innings pitched is an inaccurate way to track pitchers, we seen plenty of 10 pitched innings and 25 pitched innings.

        • That’s what I said in the article and just now about working hard and how teams judge it

      • I would be surprised if they did not track number of pitches, and even break out ” high stress ” pitches.

      • I agree. But I do think there is a difference between 130 IP and 180IP.

  • Good to hear such praise from higher ups. Especially reassuring is the part about his clean arm action and perceived longevity. He’s still very much young enough to continue filling out his lengthy frame and that too should contribute to a robust arm.

  • I think Glasnow’s size and the fact he isn’t a max effort guy helps too. If they need him down the stretch, he should be ready.

  • If you coddle them,they blow their arms out. If you don’t, they blow their arms out.

    What’s the diff?

    Let’s get as much as we can out of him in the 6 years we have him.

    • Foo, couldn’t have said it better. Not looking to abuse anyone or harm their careers, but seems the whole thing is a crap shoot anyway. You are damned if you do and damned if you don’t. Case in point, James Shields. Back in the day he would have been considered durable or a gamer. In this day and age “he has a lot of wear and tear on that arm”, perhaps received a lesser or shorter contract due to his “mileage”.
      If he turns out this good, we won’t be able to afford the $30M+ per year anyway, Turn him loose, hope for the best, for both his sake and the organization.

      • Ron/Foo… Really insightful comments IMO, and something I’ve often thought about.
        We may have very limited time with these pitchers and the team makes it a priority (FTMP) to be patient so that when they are called up they are ‘ready’ – as they’ve said themselves.
        Ready for what? Well the only expectation as far as I’m aware of is to be ready to contribute towards a championship.
        So IF that’s ready, then they should come up both ready to blast both barrells ‘so to speak’ and management should be ready to put them in those types of situations.
        Again, I like both the St Louis handling of both Carpenter and Wacha – each different, one had a bullpen opportunity to shine, and the other a starting opportunity – the point is they were both put into those roles by management not coddled.
        I’ll be patient for when they arrive, but I’ll be impatient for management to put them into the situations they’ve been groomed for.

        • Brian, I think being a small market team also plays a role in when the team calls up its prospects. With salaries soaring, the PBC probably will not get to see some of their stars reach free agency because they will not be able to afford the later years of arbitration. Therefore, they call them up to the Show when they feel the players can hit the ground running so to speak, IMO.

          • To a point I can agree with that junior, but the one flaw has been that management tends to hold players back at the MLB level especially when they arrive.
            I mean by that they seem to defer to veterans, when the talent should determine – somewhat – how much a playing time a player should receive. Examples: Kang last year. Some may say it was done well, and results would be hard to argue with – but I’d also say if they had just given Kang the SS job at the beginning of the year – the position he’s most familiar with he may have had an even bigger year which could have made a big difference in being a division leader v.s. a wildcard.

            • They were concerned because the KBO plays a lot less games. They wanted him fresh for the whole season.

            • Good point, Brian.

            • He is not a good shortstop Brian- now if you are saying they should have given him the 3rd base job at the beginning of the year…well that would be more difficult to argue with, but at the beginning of the year, he wasn’t hitting all that well, and his range at short just isn’t good enough

            • There were a lot of questions about Kang’s lack of playing time at the beginning of last year……….and very little by way of explanation. Harrison had been handed the third base job. Most said he earned it along with the big contract. Mercer was strong on the field and off to his usual bad start at the plate. Some were even calling on the FO to send Kang to INDY to get his at bats. In retrospect(hindsight), you have to wonder if we win the division if Kang had been our everyday third baseman early on. Did he really need the long period of acclimation?

        • Ready to spend years 26-29 under Pirates control. Bringing them up at 19 and they are gone at 25-26