Tomorrow the Pittsburgh Pirates will reportedly send rookie right-hander Tyler Glasnow to the mound for his major league debut. Glasnow is enormously talented and has the capablity to be a top of the rotation starter. Let's take a look.
Glasnow was drafted by the Pirates in the fifth round in 2011 from high school in Newhall, California. At the time he was rather raw but highly projectable. He emerged as a dominant force in 2013, posting a 2.18 ERA with a 164/61 K/BB in 111 innings in Low-A, allowing a mere 54 hits, then followed up with continued strong seasons in 2014 (1.74, 157/57 K/BB in 124 innings in High-A) and 2016 (2.39, 136/43 K/BB in 109 innings).
From the 2016 Baseball Prospect Book:
Tyler Glasnow, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates
Bats: L Throws: R HT: 6-8 WT: 225 DOB: August 23, 1993
2012: Grade C; 2013: Grade C+; 2014: Grade B+; 2015: Grade A
If you don’t like Tyler Glasnow, you don’t like baseball. If you are a fan of pitchers with stuff, you have the 94-99 MPH heavy fastball, at least a 70-grade pitch given the combination of velocity and movement and perhaps an 80. You have a double-plus curveball. You have an average change-up, which seems unfair given the quality of his other pitches. If you are more of a sabermetrics person, you can appreciate his insane K/IP and H/IP ratios. If you are a player development sort, you have to be impressed by how well the Pirates developed him, taking a raw gangly high school arm and turning him into a pitching beast. Glasnow still has some rough edges, namely non-perfect command and difficulty holding runners, but with a bit more polish he looks like a true dominator at the top of a rotation. Grade A.
Glasnow has continued to dominate in 2016, posting a 1.78 ERA in 96 Triple-A innings with a 113/52 K/BB and just 57 hits allowed.
There's no big secret with Glasnow: he has enormous strengths with his excellent fastball/curveball combination. The strikeout rates and low hit rates are no fluke. He continues to walk hitters at a non-ideal rate, but his stuff is so good that International League batsmen can't hit him hard enough for the BBs to matter very often. The quality of his stuff, both hard stuff and off-speed, is well-reflected in this June video clip.
How much of a difference will his command issues make against major league hitters?
Sometimes you just have to promote a guy to find out. Glasnow has learned what he can learn in the minors; that level of competition has nothing left to teach him. Although a few adjustments may be needed once MLB hitters get a look at him, Glasnow has everything needed to be a number one starter.