Pittsburgh Pirates 2016 Top Prospects: #1 – Tyler Glasnow

The Pirates Prospects 2016 Prospect Guide is now on sale. The book features prospect reports on everyone in the system, the 2016 top 50 prospects, and the most comprehensive coverage of the Pirates’ farm system that you can find. Subscribers to the site get free and discounted books, with Top Prospect subscribers getting the 2016 book for free, and Annual subscribers getting $10 off. Both levels of subscribers can also get the book for just $5. Details on all three promotions can be found on the products page, and you can subscribe to the site or upgrade your current plan on the subscriptions page.

Over the last month, we’ve been releasing one prospect per day from our top 20 list, concluding with no surprises today. If you’ve enjoyed these reports, you should definitely buy the 2016 Prospect Guide, as it has 30 more full-page reports like this for the rest of our top 50 prospects, plus reports on every other prospect in the system.

To recap the countdown so far:

20. Willy Garcia, RF
19. Clay Holmes, RHP
18. Mitch Keller, RHP
17. Max Moroff, 2B
16. Chad Kuhl, RHP
15. Cole Tucker, SS
14. Stephen Tarpley, LHP
13. Steven Brault, LHP
12. Yeudy Garcia, RHP
11. Kevin Newman, SS
10. Ke’Bryan Hayes, 3B
9. Nick Kingham, RHP
8. Elias Diaz, C
7. Reese McGuire, C
6. Harold Ramirez, OF
5. Alen Hanson, 2B
4. Jameson Taillon, RHP
3. Josh Bell, 1B
2. Austin Meadows, OF

We conclude the countdown with the number 1 prospect, Tyler Glasnow.

1. Tyler Glasnow, RHP

For several years, the Pirates drafted over-slot prep pitchers in the middle rounds, with the hope that one of them would develop in the system and eventually become a top prospect. Glasnow is that pitcher. He entered the system with an 88-92 MPH fastball, but quickly saw his velocity jump to the 94-97 MPH range, touching as high as 100. The fastball not only has velocity, but also has a steep downward plane, which is extreme when coming from his high release point. That makes him extremely difficult to hit. He also throws a curve that is a plus offering when it’s on, and a changeup that has been making strides the last two years.

A big issue for Glasnow has been a lack of control, although he has shown some improvements with that as he has moved up each level, with his best walk rate coming in Altoona in 2015. He struggled in his first run through Indianapolis, and will need to show better control numbers before making the jump to the majors. The control issues come from his tall frame, and problems with repeating his delivery. He also has trouble throwing his off-speed stuff for strikes, which can allow hitters to sit back and wait on the fastball. That is still difficult for minor league hitters to do, but MLB hitters should have an easier time if he doesn’t learn how to drop the curve in for strikes in the early counts.

Glasnow dealt with a minor ankle injury which limited his season. Even with the limitations, the Pirates got him plenty of innings in Triple-A. He will return to the level in 2016, where he will look to show better control, while learning to throw his curveball for strikes early in the count. His changeup also needs continued improvements, as it has good movement, but needs to consistently be in the mid-to-upper 80s to provide some separation from his fastball. Glasnow’s upside is a number one starter in the majors. He might not reach that ceiling right away, but should be ready for a call-up to produce in the rotation by mid-season.

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  • Obviously they won’t all work out, but from our top 20:
    Rotation could consist of 5 of: Glasnow, Taillon, Kingham, Garcia, Brault, Tarpley & Kuhl.(plus Keller and Holmes)
    Catchers: platoon of Diaz and McGuire
    Infield of Bell, Hanson, Newman & Hayes (plus Tucker and Moroff)
    OF: Meadows, Ramirez, Garcia (although I actually prefer Barnes)
    Looks pretty good to me!

  • I’m all for trading McCutchen just prior to the 2018 season to get a large return and allow Meadows to take over in Left, moving Marte to his more natural position in Center. Our 2018 Outfield would be really nice(provided that Polanco reaches his potential). McCutchen staying past his Age 31 season is kind of dumb when he will start to decline even further. He isn’t the same guy now as he has no arm, he doesn’t steal bases a whole lot anymore. He basically hits for average and power and plays an above average glove.

    • This guy turned this franchise around. He is all class and has maintained his conditioning. Keep him if you can.

      • peanutbutterguts
        February 5, 2016 4:11 pm

        He’s just an Asset. In 2018, an aging and expensive one at that. Not a good combo, especially for a team with a budget and with other, younger,guys they hope to lock up.

      • no

      • All things considered, going Jeter on any player is dumb. Its nice to be sentimental as fans, but his class and history with the team and all that isnt what matters most going forward….its his productivity vs contract.

        Dont let the sentimental stuff end with us paying a player top dollar to be not elite and make the team worse.

  • I read where Huntington said that the Bay trade was his worst. What about Aki Iwamura? or not signing Volquez ? Don’t even talk about trading Cutch. Please note I like Huntington and he has made some extremely shrewd moves but I do not trust them getting a boat load of talent or ” major league ready prospects” for Cutch. Pirate Prospects has plenty of inventory to write about.

    • Wait a minute, you are saying that trading Jesse Chavez for a total nothing was worse than trading Jason Bay for Bryan Morris, Craig Hanson, Brandon Moss, and Andy LaRoche? I realize that Moss has had a few 2 WAR seasons (but not for us) and that Andy had a 2 WAR season on 2009, but Moss was lost to FA so the Bay trade was essentially a guy who was worth over 9 WAR in the next 3 1/3 seasons for 1 2 WAR season and a trio of guys who never panned out. Chavez didn’t have an ERA under 5.5 for 5 years after he was traded.

    • Two things I will say about Huntington:
      1. He is not adverse to admitting to bad signings, bad trades, personnel misses
      (maybe because they can’t be denied when they are obvious). He takes responsibility
      2. He is protective to a fault of his owner on the payroll. Some of his justifications of
      the payroll don’t make sense….but he won’t say “this is the budget my owner
      gave me to work with.”
      My opinion….Nutting makes the budget and Neal takes the heat. He got drilled live by Colin Dunlap last week on the payroll and the answers did not ring true.

      • Dead on, Michael. Always makes me laugh when folks say silly things like “Nutting has given Huntington every dollar he’s ever asked for”, as if Huntington is dumb enough to beg for what he clearly knows he won’t get.

    • Reading that is depending lol

    • That’s an interesting read and an unbiased one.

      • Certainly not flawless, but I thought it did a good job illustrating our ongoing “Average #X Starter” discussion.

        I look at that and deduce that ERA alone is a poor judge, and that “average” roughly splits the contenders from non-contenders.

        “Average” is not what you want to be if you consider yourself the former.

    • Good lord the Mets seriously have Zach freaking wheeler penciled in at number 5…has the ever been a rotation with more upside than their current one? I don’t even think the Braves of the late 90’s rival the upside (note, not overall talent or level of achievement) of this monster…

      • I read an article about this recently but pretty much forget whatever the conclusion came to be…first rotation that always comes to mind was that 2011 Phillies squad. 26 WAR(!!!), not that that’s what I think of, with Halladay-Lee-Hamels.

        Those Schilling-Johnson D’Backs were insane but lacked depth.

        Sentimentally, I still think of those ’96-’98 Braves rotations, though.

  • If Glasnow never gains consistency with his control and delivery mechanics, is he still a viable Major League SP?

    • He is not that far away right now. He showed reasonable consistency in Altoona, particularly before the ankle injury. And for an example, it took Randy Johnson much longer to figure out how to deal with his size.

    • I would venture to say he’d fall into the Samardzija mold if he never gains consistency. AKA, a 2/3 type with really good stuff.

    • Check out Nolan Ryan’s first few years as far as walks go. Randy Johnson had some control problems too.

      • So the Pirates are getting a league average pitcher or worse for Glasnow’s first 500 to 800 innings?

    • Probably end like Dellin Betances, so still a valuable player, but far short of current expectations.

  • So is MLB.tv going to do individual team packages this year so I only have to pay to watch Pirate games… I can’t wait to see Glasnow’s debut.

    • Kozy…they have already announced that they will. $84.95 or something like that.

    • But it’s still restricted to out-of-market, right? I would cancel Comcast immediately if it weren’t for me wanting to watch Root broadcasts while living in Pittsburgh.

      • …alright fine, I have a guilty pleasure for the ID channel too… 🙂

      • I canceled Comcast’s over-expensive cable 3 years ago and have exclusively listened to every game on radio since. I just wish Greg Brown would be the radio guy every game instead of alternating. They should always have the worse broadcaster on TV, where he can’t screw up as bad. The best one should always do radio.

        PS: Just wait till Boston get’s a load of Tim Neverett’s depth perception issues. And good riddance.

    • If you are going to change, make sure you cancel autorenew for the old package. It’s tricky to find:

      Click on current subscribers.
      Click on the person icon in the upper right and choose payment profile.
      Click on customer service on the left.
      Click on audio/video subscriptions.
      Then you can go through the cancel process.

    • Thank goodness for Dave Littlefield!


      • Who was the scout that convinced Littlefield to draft Cutch? That’s who we need to thank. Littlefield didn’t want Cutch.

        • Oh goodness…

        • Littlefield actually had great luck in the first round. Putting aside the Bullington fiasco, he pulled Cutch, Walker and Maholm out of late top ten picks. That is a terrific hit rate. Look up all our 1st rounders before and since. Rene Gayo and recapped pitchers are what separates Huntington from the lesser beasts.

          • Well the jury is still out on everything after Cole but the only first round pick I’d really question at this point is Sanchez. The success or lack thereof of Glasnow, Taillon, and Bell could really boost NH’s drafting reputation.

    • This is good to see. But, I feel like an analysis such as this would be skewed towards clubs whose primary strategy is to groom homegrown talent instead of trading prospects for MLB players- not necessarily those clubs who are THE BEST at grooming players in their farms. I do think the Pirates are pretty damn good at it and deserve the top 5 ranking regardless, but my point is that clubs that don’t rank high on this list might not be “bad” at grooming in-house talent, they just choose not to.

  • I can barely control my excitement!!!!!!!!!! Get it together Nuke……get it together.

  • So, the Top 20 is complete. Pick any year with any organization and odds are a number on their top 20 list will never get to the big leagues.
    Looking at the 2016 Pirate list, I can see a MLB cup of coffee at least with all 20.

    • Yes and many here want to trade Cutch for a haul of prospects. No Thanks!

      • If the choices are:
        to trade Cutch for a bunch of prospects
        Let him walk after 2018
        Pay him 20 million plus per year until he’s almost 40

        Trading Cutch for a bunch of prospects makes the most sense and gives the Pirates the best chance of winning over the long haul.

        • I am not saying we should trade Cutch but if he was traded we would not be trading him for guys projected to get a cup of coffee but would be at least two guys projected to be very good players.

          • Exactly…any trade that would involve a ‘bunch of little pieces’ should be outright rejected.

            Hardcore blistering talent would be required in return…if it’s for prospects only…at least two (and probably three) Meadows-like players would be required.

            • To paraphrase Jim Mora “Prospects?! Don’t talk about prospects! Are you kidding me? Prospects?! I’m just hoping we can win a game, another game!

              Track record tells me a haul of prospects for Cutch is not my idea of fun. Follow the money.

              • That’s why we need to scout better.

                Trying to bring in four guys (Bay trade) who each might turn into a decent contributor is one approach…putting your foot on the trade partners neck and demanding quality is something totally different.

                I think most folks are hesitant to trade a strong piece…not because it’s the wrong thing to do…but as a result of how many times the Pirates have botched it in the past.

              • DangerWilRobnsn
                February 6, 2016 11:01 am

                Follow the money? Right to Nuttings pocket. He’ll be traded. It’s the only way this franchise can sustain itself, by keeping the bucket 3/4 full. Unless we want to have another 20+ years of sub-500 records.

        • We have pretty much tossed this year away, you might as well trade Cutch- not necessarily all for prospects, and if so, extremely high prospects including a very highly ranked shortstop whom is about ML ready, maybe a high 3rd baseman as well. I’m not sure what his trade value is, but i’m sure it could fetch a top fifty prospect shortstop, and maybe a third baseman or 1st baseman as well, plus someone whom can play center field adequately until meadows arrives….

          • peanutbutterguts
            February 6, 2016 5:00 pm

            Even if this year is tossed away, you still have him for 2 more seasons. Why would you trade him now?

            • because trading him now allows you to get pieces that can get ready to help you win a world series two years from now when you have Cole, Taillon, and Glasnow hopefully along with marte in his prime, Polanco also, and it gives meadows time to grow into the role vs. being held back. If you trade Cutch now, you go into 2018 and 2019 with the strongest core in major league baseball and no real weaknesses to speak of (assuming you use Cutch to upgrade the weeknesses you have now)

    • Would agree with the first 9 or so – but with guys like Hayes and Tucker who are a long way from the show their are always risks – injuries – personal problems and such. The hope is that nothing like that happens to any of them.

    • Hi Jeff….just wondering if you are interested in a wager on your vision for all 20.

  • That picture of Glasnow always amuses me. His eyebrows look like they’re apologizing to the hitter, like he feels bad for what he’s about to do to them.