Bell and Glasnow Among Top Impact Prospects For 2016

Keith Law posted his list of the top 25 prospects, who he think will make an impact in the majors in 2016(subscription required). He rates them based on what he thinks they will provide during the 2016 season. Law has Tyler Glasnow ranked tenth and Josh Bell ranked 13th. Interesting to note that he doesn’t think Jameson Taillon will have much of an impact this year, leaving him off the list completely, which also includes ten other names to watch.

Glasnow would rate higher for Law if he wasn’t starting the season in the minors. He thinks that Glasnow would be a better fifth option than Ryan Vogelsong right now. That is possible, though Glasnow did not look major league ready at the end of last year with Indianapolis. On occasion, he was getting by only because of his fastball and impatient AAA hitters. His command was spotty, his change-up was average at best, and he had troubles when runners got on base.

Law may actually be giving him too much credit for 2016, stating that Vogelsong will probably get a few turns, but if he pitches poorly, we could see Glasnow soon. Super two status aside, I don’t think we will see Glasnow until he is ready, regardless of how others are performing in the rotation. The Pirates won’t rush their top prospect to fill a spot, and his performance over 3-4 starts wouldn’t be enough to convince them that he has worked enough on his three main issues.

As for Bell, it’s much the same as Glasnow. Law thinks he might be the best offensive option the Pirates have at first base right now, though he still has things to work on. With the way John Jaso gets on base, if he is just average at defense right now, then he would currently be more valuable than Bell.

This case is a little tougher to figure out than Glasnow, who we will see in mid-June, unless he’s having major command issues. Bell is behind someone who doesn’t have the question marks that Ryan Vogelsong has at this point. So that could give Bell more time to work on his defense, while getting more AAA experience. We won’t see him before early June, but if the Pirates are getting production from first base and Bell is still working on things, that could delay his arrival until later in the year.

With Taillon, he could surprise some people with his production in 2016. A lot will depend on how the Pirates handle his workload. He is probably closer to big league ready than Glasnow, which could give him the better chance to make an impact this year. If his innings are really limited and they ease him back into action though, then that could mean that he won’t make a significant impact before 2017. Without knowing exactly how he will be handled, it’s too hard to pin down his possible impact other than to say he will contribute to the Pirates at some point this year.

  • I still think there’s a good chance he eventually ends up the better *pitcher*, between him and Glasnow, but Taillon simply doesn’t have the kind of “here it is, I dare you to hit it” stuff Glasnow could probably get by with right out of the gate.

    • I couldn’t agree more. I said it from the jump, I loved his stuff when they drafted him and with him throwing the heater on a downward plane now I just think with the secondary stuff he has he can be a more complete pitcher than Glasnow and I think he’s going to be pretty good himself IF all goes well.

  • I also don’t care how many times he threw to catchers last year, we should *absolutely* expect a learning curve commanding his pitchers against live batters after missing two years of competition, before even considering the fact that he’ll be doing it with an overhauled delivery.

  • HartHighPirate
    February 25, 2016 4:22 pm

    Aside from letting Morton go and Vogelson age 38 being signed so much discussion is wasted.

    Pirates have a blessed youth movement going:
    Glassnow 22, Taillon 24, Bell 23, Elias Diaz 25. Cole, 25, Brault 23, Williams 23, Kingham 24, Moroff 22, Polanco 24, Reese McGuire 20,
    Alen Hanson 23.

    The late Jackie Gleason said “How sweet it is” 🙂

  • I suspect Taillon will be the first of the top three prospects to make the ML team. Law doubts Taillon because he does not know what we know, namely, that Taillon has better mechanics. Moreover, Taillon’s improved mechanics would make him a better pitcher than the pitcher he was before the surgery. Law appears to not know about these changes and downgrades Taillon for missing a second season. Yet Taillon failed to pitch in official games in 2015 because the Pirates have a conservative rehab program and because Taillon suffered an injury irrelevant for a pitcher. And, as we know, Taillon did face hitters last year.

    Bell may have turned the ratchet a few clicks last year, especially after his promotion to Indianapolis. If he did, then his offense would be ML ready soon enough. But the Pirates might not promote him until he becomes a credible defender. As we know, an unreliable first baseman undermines an infield and pitching staff. I’d imagine a rookie has enough to worry over that even a mentally strong person might find it difficult to stomach knowing he has lost games in a pennant race because of his shoddy defense. I expect Bell to be the second of the top three to get the call.

    Glasnow will move to the majors when he can reliably throw strikes and when he improves his changeup. The talant is there, he only needs to tame it a bit. I expect him to be the last of the top three to make it.

    • Like what you said about Taillon, but I think Bell is last to get the call-up mainly due to MLB depth at the respective positions. But also, switching hitting position players simply have more skills to perfect (LH batting, RH batting, fielding) than do pitchers (pitching). I know that is an extremely generalized statement, but I think from a reps perspective it makes sense, at least to me (the author of said opinion).

  • surprising move by the Cubs in resigning Fowler – he gives them the option of playing Hayward in right – at least some of the time. They also get depth in the OF that they can use at the trade deadline if needed.

    • Was there a quieter 3 WAR season in all of baseball last year than Chris Coghlan’s?

      Giving up him for a roster spot for Fowler doesn’t really improve overall depth, but it does give them a “true” centerfielder. Really wonder if Soler gets moved now, despite being so close to the start of the season.

      • Though there are questions about Fowler’s defense in CF, in terms of how “good” it is.

        Im sure they’ll keep Fowler in CF, but im not totally convinced he’s a better CFer than Heyward for that field. Heyward’s arm helps in RF for sure.

        • You bet, except isn’t Fowler more or less CF insurance? You think they’ll bench one of Soler or Schwarber more oftne than not?

          • I think they now take it safe and have Fowler in CF and Heyward in RF, with Schwarber in LF and mayyybe have some guys move around to get time for Soler once a week.

            I think moving Soler makes sense, but idk if they’d find a good enough deal at this time of the season that makes more sense than having him as a fine bench bat/spot starter.

            Schwarber-Fowler-Heyward against RHP, with Soler getting time against LHP for Schwarber with whatever defense they feel is best. There is no excuse for Schwarber to start against LHP now.

          • My only issue with that article is basically my issue with the narrative about Heyward, in that its always “well he’s always played RF so he’s likely better there.”

            He’s more comfortable, but i think he could end up being as valuable in CF as RF. No reason to push that issue now, but still worth considering if value works out in the Cubs favor.

            Good for the Cubs, but overall i dont think it changed a ton as far as defense goes. Offense is the big boon for CHC.

            • I do agree that Heyward could be a fine CF and make up any difference in actual performance with positional adjustment, but you really hit the nail on the head with your comment on Fowler.

              He seems to be one of those cases that may have a legitimate gripe with the metrics. I certainly haven’t watched a ton of Dexter Fowler, but he sure didn’t look like a guy so bad that he was actually giving up 10-20 runs on defense, and if you’ll excuse the appeal to authority, the Cubs and all their analysts sure don’t seem to mind him out there.

              If Fowler really ends up to be a slightly below average defender instead of an awful one, then I do think removing one of Soler or Schwarber from the field and avoiding Heyward being the guy in the middle picking up the scraps improves the defense quite a bit by default.

              • Yeah i never see Fowler, in real time or in stats, as less than average.

                Interesting thing will be to see what this does to where Zobrist plays. If there isnt room in the OF, Zobrist becomes mainly a 2Bmen. Which, for me, helps his value.

        • Well, wrong there I suppose since I just saw the FanGraphs article go up saying the opposite.

          My goodness, those Cubs…

      • Agree that the improvement in swapping out Coghlan for Fowler is not a big thing – the trade only makes sense to me if the Cubs think Chris Bosio can turn Aaron Brooks in JA II. When I saw that trade I thought that the Cub must see something in Brooks they like…

  • “The Pirates have a cast of castoffs at first base right now, none of whom is likely to come close to what Bell would produce at the plate…”

    Law’s style can be somewhat flippant in these blurbs so take it for what it’s worth, but this comment would seem to indicate that he either didn’t realize the Pirates signed John Jaso or that he expects *massive* regression from him.

    Nobody should expect Bell to be a >120 wRC+ hitter right out of the gate, which would be the *low* mark for Jaso in the past three years.

    • I kinda feel like people are selling Jaso’s potential offensive output kinda short. He may not his a lot of homers but he gets on base. I happen to think he’s an upgrade over Alvarez.

      • People, as in the average fan? Absolutely.

        I do certainly think it’s a bit much to expect >130 wRC+ from Jaso as he’ll be a year older and learning a completely new position in the field, but this guy can flat out hit. I don’t think he’ll be *that* much of an upgrade over what Alvarez did last year, but he’ll get at it in a way that folks will appreciate much more.

        • …but he’ll get at it in a way that folks will appreciate much more.

          That is, with his ears outside of his hat? 🙂

        • There may be some offsetting factors with Jaso’s offense. There’s a real statistical “DH Penalty” to offense, so he might actually get an offensive boost by playing in the field, but since he’s learning a new position, that boost may be mitigated. So which is the bigger factor for Jaso? The DH penalty disappearing or the added pressure of learning a new position? Or will either matter for Jaso specifically? Well, I guess we’ll find out.

          • Folks have gone crazy with that DH penalty study.

            The real John Jaso, in real life, has really been a slightly better hitter *as a DH* than as a fielder.

            Every study that comes out on a particular topic does not apply to every situation.

        • HartHighPirate
          February 25, 2016 3:40 pm

          Alas Alvarez, we knew him well
          Hit the longest ball into the river
          Went back into his shell.

    • Jaso and Bell, right now, are really similar hitters stylistically, great at getting on base, but not with much power. Jaso’s done it for years at the Major League level, though, so I agree, it’s a little much to ask Bell as a rookie to outperform John Jaso’s proven production.

      That said, I don’t think we’re far from a time when Bell is a Jaso who strikes out less and hits for more power, but I think that time will be 2017, not 2016. Best case for Bell in 2016 is probably a Jaso clone, which, incidentally, is pretty good.

      • Assuming you’re talking about Bell’s overall production vs Jaso’s platoon production, that’s a pretty huge ask by 2017, IMO. Especially without seeing how Major League pitchers attack Bell.

        Jaso’s a damn good hitter, after all. Bell as a 130ish wRC+ hitter in his first full Big League season would be far surpassing expectations.

    • Bell aside, this is the most optimistic I’ve been about the first base situation in awhile. Jaso and Morse should theoretically be a very solid platoon, with Rogers waiting in the wings if it turns out Morse is toast. Then again, I’ve been optimistic in the past about the 1B platoons (Sanchez/Jones, Sanchez/Morneau, Davis/Sanchez, Pedro/Hart), and those all turned out to be a dumpster fire…

      • Haha, this is a fantastic comment and would perfectly describe my own thoughts.

        I’ve talked myself into buying some truly terrible baseball players as good platoon options by teasing out one split or another. Huntington is bound to hit one of these combos out of sheer luck, right?

  • No projection system agrees w/ the aforementioned analysis comparing Glasnow to Vogelsong. Put simply: Glasnow, w/ all of his faults, would still project to be much better than a Ryan Vogelsong. While Law seems to ignore/marginalize the Super 2 questions and timeline that it demands, I presume that’ll be the Pirates main concern in addition to his own readiness. As a result, I agree that he won’t be up before both Super 2 is passed and his readiness is more accurately determined.

    That being said, there is zero evidence and/or projection system that posits Vogelsong would be more effective than Glasnow at the beginning of the year. Saying otherwise makes one uninformed and/or guilty of possessing irrational concern over Glasnow’s development or both.

    • Remember that league-average hitter projection for Andrew Lambo everyone was fawning over right around this time last year? Me too!

  • Not sure if this is the right article to post this but why not just keep Morton for 8 million? This would’ve pushed Vogelsong to long man and kept the salary around 105 I think. You mentioned that Bell doesn’t need to be rushed because of Jaso which makes perfect sense. But for about 2 1/2 months you need Locke and Vogelsong to hold their own or not get hurt. I’m a big “let’s see how this plays out” type of guy and so when they got rid of Morton I was expecting to see that money go to another starter. But that hasn’t happened and now one injury to rotation leaves them with Lobstein or Nicasio. There’s still time to make a move obviously but I’m not as optimistic about someone else sliding in when the Morton trade initially went down.

    • Tim could probably answer this better but I think the Pirates simply lost patience with Morton. He was maddeningly inconsistent. He also regressed significantly last year in almost all relevant categories. I think the Pirates figured Vogelsong could do that for less than 1/2 the cost.

    • Yeah, I was pretty tired of seeing Morton hit a couple of guys in the foot every start

    • The Pirates have given Morton every chance in the world to succeed. They found a taker to take on his whole salary and jumped on it. Morton will fail miserably for the Phillies just as Burnett did

    • Like you and everyone else, I assumed the plan was to use the Morton’s money to go get a semi-competent free agent pitcher who could hold the fort until the prospects started arriving. At this point it’s clear that isn’t happening for several reasons:

      1. I think they have more confidence in their young pitching than they’re letting on. Between Glasnow, Taillon, Kuhl, Brault, Williams and maybe Kingham, they have to figure one — and maybe two or more — can give you at least as much as Matt Latos, at a fraction of the price.
      2. They don’t want the young guys blocked by a marginal veteran.
      3. They have supreme confidence in their ability to turn around one or more of the reclamation projects they brought in.
      4. They wanted to save money.

      Bottom line, I think the plan is to make due in the early part of the season and incorporate at least two young pitchers into the rotation in the second half. If that puts the team in a hole they can’t dig out of, that’s a risk they’re willing to take. On the bright side, it sets things up nicely for 2017.

    • My theory was/is that they wanted to keep the payroll under $100M and that meant they needed to trade either Morton or Melancon. Given that – they made the right choice.

      I also think they have hopes of getting Locke back on track for at least half the year – Searage might be able to get him close to his All Star form for 20 starts – and they will have enough bullpen depth to be pretty quick with the hook.

      • This is the perfect year for Locke. He can have another all-star first half, then Taillion and Glasnow come up and give him the boot once he struggles. If this works out, it couldn’t be better. Also, I’m very frustrated by the Vogelsong signing. Its not that I don’t trust the Searage system, its just I’m channeling all the frustration from the last time Vogelsong was on the team and could never get it together.

    • I’m still convinced that NH had something pulled out from underneath him. There is no reason to move Morton the day of Pirates fest when he just flew into town to show up. It’s not like the Phillies were going to get better suitors for that prospect, and said “you only have an hour for this deal.” NH was moving money to go get something he wanted, and it fell through. That’s my personal opinion.

      • Maybe, but its also possible that he worked for a few days on a deal he wanted to free up things for a potential Niese deal and wasnt interested in waiting a day just for that event.

        Its not as if its any better to have him go to Pirate Fest and trade him the day after. I wouldnt blame any GM for simply finishing a trade when its ready to be done and letting the player know ASAP. Its a crappy part of the job but its part of it.

      • I think the same could be said to make sense of much of what happened this winter. A series of Plan B’s and C’s.

    • The early season rotation depth is a concern.

      But the Pirates need innings and Morton’s upside is what low 3.50 ERA for 140 innings, and that requires him to be one of the best pitchers in baseball against RHH because he has never found a way to get left handed hitters out.

      Holliday threw a cutter, it is hard to be successful against opposing handed hitters throwing from the 3/4 arm slot. Teams now routinely trot out a lineup of at least 4 LHH vs Morton.