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Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Top Performers: Some New Faces at the Top of the Pitching Leaderboard

Below are the pitching Game Scores* in the Pittsburgh Pirates’ farm system from the last week. The top ten and the bottom five starts are broken down below the chart. The top five short season pitchers are also highlighted in a separate group, since most of those guys only go 4-5 innings max, and don’t have a good chance of being highlighted in the top ten. The rankings include every pitcher who made a start for a Pirates’ minor league affiliate, with no limitations on whether the starting pitcher has prospect eligibility.

*Game Score is a stat created by Bill James used to determine how good a pitcher’s outing really was. The formula for game score is simple: Start with 50 points, add one point for every out recorded, add two for each inning completed after the fourth, add one point for each strikeout. Subtract two points for each hit, four points for each earned run, two points for each unearned run and one point for each walk. There tends to be an advantage for pitchers who can go longer in the game, as they have more time to pile up strikeouts, while getting bonus points for extra innings beyond the fourth frame.

The Top Ten

Ethan Hollingsworth had the top game score this week, and two of the top ten scores.
Ethan Hollingsworth had the top game score this week, and two of the top ten scores.

Ethan Hollingsworth not only had the top game score this week, but he also had the fifth best game score. Hollingsworth has stepped into the Altoona rotation recently, and has a 2.11 ERA in 21.1 innings over four starts, with a 14:2 K/BB ratio. The Pirates added Hollingsworth in the minor league phase of the 2012 Rule 5 draft. He throws 89-92 MPH and profiles more as an upper level organizational arm, having spent parts of the previous three years in Double-A or Triple-A.

Jason Creasy has stepped into the West Virginia rotation for the second half of the season, and got off to a great start in his first two outings. In the first start, Creasy threw 4.2 shutout innings, allowing four hits, with two walks and three strikeouts. That was the eighth best game score of the week. His second outing was the second best game score. Creasy threw five shutout innings, allowing a walk and a hit, and striking out six. John Dreker was at that start, and has a recap here.

Kris Johnson just missed being the third pitcher to make the top ten twice this week. Johnson’s first start of the week was tied for the third best in the system, with two runs in seven innings. His second start was the 11th best of the week, giving up three runs in seven innings. Johnson only allowed three hits and two walks in the first start, while allowing eight total walks and hits the second time around.

Adrian Grullon tied Johnson for the third best start this week. That’s impressive, since Grullon is a lower level pitcher with limited innings. The 6′ 7″ right hander pitched four shutout innings, giving up just two hits, with no walks and seven strikeouts. He’s got a 90-93 MPH fastball and a nice lower 80s curveball, and looks to be one of the most interesting pitchers on the GCL roster this year.

Nick Kingham continued his strong start in Altoona, giving up two earned runs on two walks and two hits in six innings. Kingham struck out five, and now has a 3.50 ERA in 18 innings in Double-A, with an 18:5 K/BB ratio.

Tyler Glasnow pitched four shutout innings in his start this week, giving up one hit and two walks, while striking out three. John Dreker recapped the start here.

Andy Oliver and Graham Godfrey tied for the ninth best score this week. Oliver went seven innings, giving up three runs on five hits, while walking four and striking out six. Walks have been a big problem for Oliver, with more than a walk an inning in May/June combined. Godfrey has recently stepped in to the Indianapolis rotation, and gave up two runs on two hits and a walk in five innings in his last outing.

Short-Season Pitchers

Adrian Grullon’s first start finished in the top ten and was the best of the short-season group. His second start was also one of the top five short-season starts this week. Grullon’s second start came with a game score of 48.65, ranking fifth among the short-season guys. That’s not uncommon, since most short-season pitchers only go 3-4 innings, making it harder to get a good game score. Here is video of Grullon from his second start.


Jon Sandfort didn’t make a start, but piggybacked off Grullon’s second outing. He had a strong debut, throwing three shutout innings, allowing two hits, and striking out three. Here is video of Sandfort in his debut.


Wei-Chung Wang is off to a strong start this year, and had the third best score of short-season pitchers this week after giving up one run in 4.1 innings, with four strikeouts.

Jackson Lodge made a spot start for Jamestown, replacing Chad Kuhl who is out with an abdominal strain. Lodge gave up two runs in five innings of work, with no walks and one strikeout.

The Bottom Five

Kenn Kasparek pitched game two of a double-header, and was bounced early after giving up six earned runs on seven hits in one inning. Kasparek has been used mostly as a reliever this year, but was making the emergency spot-start due to all of the games Altoona played this week.

Cody Dickson had a great debut last week, then had one game suspended due to rain this week. His third start wasn’t as good, with four earned runs on seven hits in 2.1 innings.

Dovydas Neverauskas had a rough week, taking the third and fifth worst starts on the list. The right-hander combined to give up six earned runs in 4.2 innings over two starts, with a 1:4 K/BB ratio.

Eliecer Navarro also struggled in both of his starts this week, although only one made the bottom five. Navarro gave up six runs, five earned, in five innings, with three walks and four strikeouts.

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Tim started Pirates Prospects in 2009 from his home in Virginia, which was 40 minutes from where Pedro Alvarez made his pro debut in Lynchburg. That year, the Lynchburg Hillcats won the Carolina League championship, and Pirates Prospects was born from Tim's reporting along the way. The site has grown over the years to include many more writers, and Tim has gone on to become a credentialed MLB reporter, producing Pirates Prospects each year, and will publish his 11th Prospect Guide this offseason. He has also served as the Pittsburgh Pirates correspondent for Baseball America since 2019. Behind the scenes, Tim is an avid music lover, and most of the money he gets paid to run this site goes to vinyl records.


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Creasy is starting to look like the next A ball pitcher that breaks out. I’ve seen him pitch. I like what I’ve seen. Low effort delivery. If he can continue to add velocity he could make a big leap into the team’s top 20 prospects.

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