With Tyler Glasnow’s third start coming up tonight, I thought I’d talk about the six pitchers that I have seen pitch twice already this season. The schedule has worked out well enough that I’ve seen two starts from Glasnow, Jameson Taillon, Chad Kuhl, Steven Brault, Tyler Eppler and Clay Holmes. Yesterday alone I was able to watch both Kuhl and Eppler. All six are in our top 22 prospects. Here is a brief rundown for each player on what I have seen this year compared to what we already knew about them.
Glasnow – He has looked like the Glasnow we all know, except (and I know this could be considered jinxing him), he has better command. He also has better body language out on the mound and that’s almost as important as the improved command. Now if he could just use that change-up a little more often. He has ten starts left before the approximate Super 2 deadline passes, which means he has time to work on his third pitch, and time to prove the command is actually better.
Taillon – While his curve and fastball aren’t quite on par with Glasnow, they aren’t far behind either. The fact that Taillon uses his change-up as a weapon instead of a show-me pitch, probably gives him the slight advantage right now for that first call-up. Taillon is pitching like he hasn’t missed any time and remarkably, he actually looks better than before. That’s due to cleaner mechanics and being in better shape. The mentality is there to attack hitters.
Kuhl – While the other two Indy starters are clearly the higher rated prospects, Kuhl can be considered a sleeper at this point, even rated 16th in a deep farm system. He doesn’t have the put away pitches the other two have, which is the reason he ran up his pitch counts in both starts. The velocity and movement are there on the sinker for it to be a plus pitch. His slider has improved a lot as well. Kuhl has that bulldog attitude on the mound you like to see. He basically just needs time on the mound so he can continue to improve. He is clearly a future Major League starter, though he may end up at the back of a bullpen someday due to his stuff playing up in a shorter role.
Holmes – I saw Holmes pitch three times in 2013 and he improved every outing. That’s factoring in that he didn’t look bad the first time out. He was clearly a young pitcher with potential. Then the Tommy John surgery happened and 2014 was gone. Last year I saw video from bullpens and the back fields at Pirate City, plus I got scouting reports from Bradenton, but it’s good to see him live again. I like what I’ve seen in the two starts. He needs more consistency in his pitches, but we are talking about someone with 229.2 innings in his career, and he’s pitching in AA. You should expect some issues with him here and there, but what you look for is the pure “stuff” and it is there. His fastball usually sits 92-94 and has good downward action. The curve has nice action and his change-up is at least an average pitch now. There is a nice three-pitch mix there, to go along with his big frame, which is built for 200 innings.
Brault – Of the six players here, he is the only one who hasn’t met (or exceeded) expectations early. In both starts, he ran his pitch count up by not being able to put hitters away. His stuff is good enough to get weak contact and foul balls, but not get the swing and misses you want to see. He looked better the couple times I watched him last year, pitching inside more, throwing a few more strikes, and letting the other team put the ball in play for quick outs. Here’s a case where I am more patient because I have seen better from him, so I look forward to the next time I watch him to see if these two starts were just him trying to find his groove early on.
Eppler – I never got to see Eppler pitch because he skipped over Low-A. I saw some video from all different times, starting in the Instructional League in 2014 and up until this Spring Training, but never a full game. I like what I’ve seen from him, though I don’t see the upside of the first four players I mentioned here. He’s more like a strong back-end starter, who can give you a lot of innings. That might end up being better than some of the others, but that would be him reaching his ceiling and them not reaching their ceiling. One plus while watching him is that his slurve is still relatively new pitch to him, so you assume that still has potential to improve.
PIRATES GAME GRAPH
Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pirates lost 8-2 to the Padres on Wednesday night. Gerrit Cole gets the start today, his third of the season. In his last game, he allowed two earned runs over six innings in a loss to the Tigers. He faces James Shields, who has a 4.05 ERA and 1.25 WHIP in 20 innings over three starts. He has gone at least six innings each time out.
In Indianapolis, Tyler Glasnow makes his third start, and this game has a lot more going on than just the top prospect in the system. The opposing starting pitcher will be Homer Bailey, making a rehab appearance. Indianapolis will have Jung-ho Kang and Jared Hughes still there on rehab, with Hughes scheduled to pitch on the second day of back-to-back games. Then on Wednesday, the Pirates announced Cory Luebke would join Indianapolis on rehab for today’s game. Glasnow had no walks and nine strikeouts in his last appearance. He has given up one run over five innings in each start.
For West Virginia, Mitch Keller will make his third start. He has thrown five shutout innings in both starts this year, giving up five hits total (three on bunts) and no walks, with 13 strikeouts. He was named the Pitcher of the Week in the South Atlantic League last week.
MLB: Pittsburgh (7-8) @ Padres (6-9) 9:10 PM
Probable starter: Gerrit Cole (4.22 ERA, 4:9 BB/SO, 10.2 IP)
AAA: Indianapolis (6-5) @ Louisville (5-6) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Tyler Glasnow (1.80 ERA, 3:15 BB/SO, 10.0 IP)
AA: Altoona (5-8) vs Richmond (5-9) 6:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Cody Dickson (3.24 ERA, 10:4 BB/SO, 8.1 IP)
High-A: Bradenton (6-8) @ Palm Beach (9-5) 6:30 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Austin Coley (10.13 ERA, 5:7 BB/SO, 8.0 IP)
Low-A: West Virginia (11-3) @ Lexington (7-6) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Mitch Keller (0.00 ERA, 0:13 BB/SO, 10.0 IP)
Here is the home run from Reese McGuire that he hit on Tuesday. It was his first homer since August, 2014.
4/20: Jared Hughes assigned to Indianapolis on rehab.
4/19: Julio Vivas added to West Virginia roster. Logan Ratledge assigned to Morgantown.
4/18: Jung-ho Kang assigned to Indianapolis on rehab.
4/16: Trevor Williams placed on disabled list. Jhondaniel Medina promoted to Indianapolis.
4/15: John Kuchno promoted to Indianapolis. Frank Duncan added to Altoona roster.
4/14: Cory Luebke placed on disabled list. Pirates recall Rob Scahill.
4/14: Pirates sign Justin Masterson.
4/14: Chad Kuhl assigned to Indianapolis.
4/13: Michael Morse designated for assignment. Pirates select contract of A.J. Schugel.
4/13: Pedro Florimon sent outright to Indianapolis.
4/13: West Virginia places Cesilio Pimentel on disabled list. Eric Karch added to roster.
4/11: Pirates release John Holdzkom.
4/6: Tampa Bay Rays claim Jake Goebbert off waivers from Pirates.
THIS DATE IN PIRATES HISTORY
Four former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, with three of them playing during this century. Kip Wells, Ronnie Paulino and Jack Taschner all put in time during the down years between playoff appearances. The one player that didn’t play during this current era is shortstop Stan Rojek, who was a member of the Pirates from 1948 until 1951. Rojek didn’t have a career that stands out in the Majors, but he did serve during WWII, missing three years of his playing career in the process.
Speaking of Rojek, the first year he served in the military was 1943 and that year was the only time the Pirates opened up a season on April 21st. Like every other team in baseball, the Pirates has players leave to serve in the military. The club was still strong enough that season to finish with an 80-74 record. On Opening Day, Pittsburgh won 6-0 in Chicago with Rip Sewell on the mound. He pitched a complete game and Vince DiMaggio drove in two runs. You can see the boxscore here.
Exactly 100 years ago, the Pirates lost an appeal from a day earlier, but it brought about a change from the league. Runner Doc Johnston was called out at third base when he was touched by third base coach Jimmy Callahan, even though the ball wasn’t in play at the time. The league announced the next day that umpires will no longer call players out for making contact with the coach unless it directly helps them in anyway, such as a coach pushing them back/towards the next base.