Pittsburgh's front office headed by Neal Huntington hasn't seen the results they've desired in the win-loss column, but there has been a marked improvement (and increased investment) in the draft and their minor leagues as a whole. Unlike some other teams though, Pittsburgh has been investing their draft dollars across a plethora of prospects, rather than ponying up for some of the bigger names. One of the beneficiaries of this process, Tyler Glasnow is now rewarding the Pirates quite handsomely. Drafted in the 5th round of the 2011 draft, the 6'7 pitcher received an overslot $600,000 to sign on the line which is dotted.
Glasnow impressed immediately, striking out 10.3 K/9 in 38.1 innings in his debut, though that was accompanied by an elevated walk rate of 4 BB/9. He's taken it to another level thus far in 2013, throwing 30 innings over seven starts with a stellar strikeout rate of 12.6 per nine innings. Unfortunately, while his strikeouts per nine have increased, so too have his walks per nine, up to 5.7. That's a troublesome figure, and it will likely prevent him from retaining his sparkling 1.80 ERA, as his current rate of 3.9 hits per nine innings is unsustainable.
What's exciting about Glasnow is that he's not overpowering younger hitters, getting by on guile and an advanced pitch that is just too good for the league. Glasnow is still figuring out how to use his massive frame and long levers. Repeating his mechanics can be a challenge; no surprise for a kid of his size, and that can have a large effect on his control. Glasnow will sit in the low 90s with his plus fastball and will touch 96 MPH, which can get on hitters quickly given how close he releases the ball to the plate. There might still be more in the tank as well, as we've already seen a jump in velo since he joined pro ball. Glasnow isn't all fastball those, as he shows a big, bending curveball with lots of break and some depth, that earns a plus grade from scouts. This will shock you, as it did me given that this is a young hurler on the rise, but Glasnow's change up is rudimentary at best. It lags well behind his fastball and curve, and I wouldn't be surprised to see the Pirates force him to throw his change more than he otherwise would, as they did with Jameson Taillon. He does get incredible plane on his pitches, as you might expect of someone with his height, and he uses it to his advantage. Glasnow has a lot of room for growth as a pitcher, with major steps to be taken with his change up, command and control.
There is a maxim that taller pitchers learn to control their bodies a bit later, so there may be a correction there as time goes on, but if he can put it all together he should become a strong midrotation starter who can eat innings and rack up strikeouts. He'd be a strong third starter behind Pittsburgh's dynamic duo of Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon. He's flying under the radar right now, but there's only so long that a pitcher with a 12+ K/9 can remain an unknown, so you might want to snap him up quickly if you can. Glasnow is unlikely to be a quick mover, but if you're the patient type, a small investment now could pay huge dividends down the line.