First Pitch: Neal Huntington Discusses Glasnow’s Changeup and Taillon’s Innings

CHARLESTON, WV – I’m in West Virginia this week, watching the Low-A squad, which included Mitch Keller today. Another person who is in West Virginia this week, and who also watched Keller today, is Pirates’ General Manager Neal Huntington. During the rain delay this morning, I caught up with him to discuss a few topics around the minor league system.

Obviously the biggest topic relating to the big league level would be the progress of the top pitching prospects in the upper levels — Tyler Glasnow and Jameson Taillon. Both have been performing well lately, and both are showing encouraging signs with their development.

One of the most encouraging things from Glasnow came on Tuesday night, when he threw his changeup 15 times, with 12 going for strikes. That was in the process of going six shutout innings, with two hits, one walk, and 11 strikeouts.

There was some concern that Glasnow might struggle with the changeup, since it isn’t as good as his other two pitches. That said, he needs to develop the pitch, and the only way for that to happen is to throw it more often. Huntington said last week that they might get to a point where they need to start forcing him to throw the pitch more often. I asked today if that was what happened in yesterday’s outing.

“It was a conversation about the next steps of his development,” Huntington said. “It’s time to start using the changeup as a weapon, and that’s going to be a huge tell for us, as far as his taking steps to be a quality Major League pitcher. He used it, but he also used it as a weapon and had very good effectiveness from our reports. A very encouraging sign.”

Huntington received good reports about the usage of the pitch, noting that he not only threw it, but that it was effective, as indicated in the stat line.

“He used it, and used it effectively and it had an impact. All three of those things are positive signs. Obviously the use is important, but the ability to use it at various points in the count, against various hitters, and he showed very positive first steps.”

One thing to note about the start is that Glasnow was going up against a Durham team that ranks near the bottom of the International League in offense. It’s a great thing to see him doing well with the changeup, but you only want to put so much on that one start. If this trend continues, and the success carries over against more difficult teams, then the Pirates will have to make a decision on bringing up Glasnow.

As for Taillon, he’s off to a great start, with a 1.65 ERA in 16.1 innings, along with a 16:0 K/BB ratio. He makes his next start this afternoon, looking to continue his run. He’s returning after two years away from upper level hitters, but it doesn’t look like the adjustment back has been a difficult one.

The Pirates are also focusing on limiting his workload early, being conservative in bringing him back, but also trying to save innings for later in the season. Huntington discussed this, repeating some things he has said since Spring Training.

“With Glasnow and Taillon, we’ll be cognizant of their pitches, their innings, their stress innings, their stress pitches early in the season,” Huntington said. “The idea is to get to the end of the season and not have anything left in the bank, but also to not be in a position where we’ve got to make a really hard call that their workload is too much. So it’s that delicate balance that we walk with all pitchers as we build them up. How far can we push them, but not want to push them too far.”

I feel that Taillon is ahead of Glasnow in terms of stuff, since Glasnow has more to work on to reach his upside. Taillon just needs to get to a point where he’s not restricted, before he can be called up. However, if Glasnow shows quick development with his changeup, continuing what he showed Tuesday night, then he could move ahead of Taillon.

**I’ll have more from my interview with Huntington on Thursday, taking a deeper look at Josh Bell, what has led to his success this year, and when he might be called up. To get that article, you’ll have to subscribe.

**Kevin Newman Exemplifies the Pirates’ New Focus on Hitting. I also talked with Huntington about last year’s first round pick, and included that discussion in my article on him today.

**Prospect Watch: Mitch Keller Loses Shutout Streak, Still Pitches Well. My breakdown of Mitch Keller’s start. I’ll have an article and video on him in the afternoon. Just from the conversation I had with him today, you can expect some detailed discussion about mechanics and changeup grips.

**David Todd Podcast: When Will Taillon and Glasnow Be Ready? My weekly interview with David Todd, discussing Taillon, Glasnow, and several other prospects.

**Morning Report: Indianapolis Leads the League in Pitching Thanks to Top Prospects. John Dreker looks at how successful the Indianapolis rotation has been.

  • BuccosFanStuckinMD
    April 28, 2016 8:58 am

    You know it wasn’t a good night, when Vogelsong was your most effective pitcher – and you pitched 6-7 pitchers in the same game. Wow, Niese is awful. I don’t even want him as my #5 starter. Despite their imperfections and growing pains, Taillon and Glasnow would be huge upgrades to the rotation now – bring them up, and cut loose two out of the group of Lobstein, Scahill, and Vogelsong. Move Locke and Nicasio to the pen….the BP has been overworked and just bludgeoned – there isn’t one guy in that group who has been solid this year so far – not even Melancon or Watson.

    • Thank God you’re not the GM.

    • Good thing we have a real gm and not people who like to play fantasy baseball.

    • 162 games……repeat….162 games.

    • Right now Lobstein > Vogey.

      Honestly, if Taillon and Kuhl are ready in June and can replace Locke & Nicasio, I wouldn’t mind seeing Glasnow brought up for use in the pen. Especially if Feliz and Watson don’t self-correct. If not Glasnow, then Brault. But it would definitely help to have someone other than Gas Cam out there who packs some legit heat.

    • Dude..you must get invited to all the parties.

    • Stil thinking you are more knowledgable than the F.O. I see. Have you even been watching Lobstein in his last couple of appearances ? SMFH

  • “It was a conversation about the next steps in his development.”

    My assumption of that conversation:

    NH: “You must throw 10 change ups per game from now on”

    TG: “Gotcha”

  • If the Pirates call up Glasnow too soon, he could look like Gray. Hard thrower, but can’t locate, pitch count through the roof, no real option for a 3rd pitch, etc. I just hope they take their time with Glasnow and bring him up when he’s ready.

    • One thing this front office doesn’t do is rush players. Taillon, Kuhl, and Brault may all beat Glasnow to the big leagues. Wouldn’t be shocked if we have 3 rookies in Pittsburgh’s rotation at some point this season. Worked out OK for the Mets.

      • I’m not sure about that….Polanco wasn’t ready.

        • I think the problem with this line of thinking is that “is ready” means something different to everyone.

          Was he ready to be an above average hitter against ML pitching? No.

          Was he ready to face better talent? Almost assuredly.

          We all opine for the Kris Bryant, who show up and hit well from day 1. But thats not going to be every player, and while Polanco did have thing to keep working on he really didnt have a ton to benefit from by staying in AAA. He was so much better than those pitchers that he could look great without having to be challenged in his areas of need.

          Im not sure Polanco is a case where another half season in AAA would have done him good. Where as guys like Taillon do have the ability to work on things, like fastball command, for another month before its silly to have him there.

        • He was the one promotion that i thought could use more time in AA/AAA. Only a couple hundred AB’S in AA and about 300 in AAA. Learned in his first two years in the majors. That said, he didn’t take a better players job.

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      April 29, 2016 12:04 am

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  • Just heard on MLB that Charlie Morton is out for the remainder of the season and will undergo surgery on his hamstring on Monday. Tough luck for CM who was doing fairly well at 1-1, 4.15 ERA.

    Is Neil Walker on fire?

    Jared Hughes had another poor performance in the BP at AAA, so looking for immediate help for the Pirates is out of the question. Is it time to unveil Super Du?

    Pirates locked up a winning month for April with their 13th win, and today’s game in Colorado will be the 15th road game out of their first 23 games.

    • I was always a fan of Charlie’s hate to see this. Walker is working on a big contract. He is a great guy but alas he is a Met.

  • I wonder with the holes in the PBC bullpen you would want to consider adding these two as bullpen guys? The idea that a starter who barely gives you six innings then they bring in guys who are struggling makes for a long season. Adding of two power arms in relief situations could give them (T&G) better chance to succeed and help the club out sooner. They could also be stretched out to start in the future.

    • The BP is a mess, but the possibility of Taillon or Glasnow being in the BP seems extremely remote to me. Before that happens I think we may see Locke, Brault, or Nicasio in the BP, with Kuhl and Taillon up as early in June as possible. Glasnow is massive potential, but he will not even turn 23 until August – the Pirates will not rush him unless he pushes his way to the front of the line sometime between now and mid-June. Taillon is already 24 and Kuhl will turn 24 in Sep, and they have the pitches which can help them be successful in MLB.- they are also lighting it up at AAA. Great outing by Brault yesterday.

      • The Cards always did this with their highly touted prospects. Get them game action and only focus on a couple of innings. The bullpen is a mess and Hurdle enhances those problems with his management of the pen.

        • Yeah, that guy used Feliz and Watson in the crucial innings.

          Clearly the manager is a dumb dumb.

          • Stupid manager and his BP moves cost the Pirates last year. Only won 98 games and the BP was the best in baseball. Very stupid manager.

        • Get a clue, man….

    • No.

    • In a word, Bill W., NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! When they come up, they need to be in the starting rotation, not the bullpen.

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