First Pitch: Thoughts on Glasnow, Polanco, Hanson, Pitching, Castro

Last week when I looked at the schedule, I saw the opportunity to cover six games in three days. I didn’t have to cover six games. I could have taken a break from the minor league coverage for three days while the Pirates were in Tampa. But it sounded like fun, and almost a reminder of the first few years running this site, when I would go on a season ending tour at the end of the year, stopping in a different minor league city each night.

Today ended up being a pretty busy news day, plus there were the final two games to cover. The coverage for the games doesn’t just involve watching them. It involves showing up a few hours early, doing interviews, generating story ideas, and writing, of course. As a result of the last few days, I’ve got a lot of great article ideas lined up for the next few days and the next week. But also as a result of today’s busy day, and getting those articles ready, I don’t really have it in me to think up something new tonight. So we’ll go with a “thoughts” column, recapping all of the stories from today.

**Prospect Watch: Harold Ramirez and Josh Bell Extend Their Hitting Streaks. I’ve got a live report here on Orlando Castro, which I’ll expand on in the next few days.

**Tyler Glasnow is Somehow Repeating His 2013 Success at a Higher Level. One of the games I covered this week was Glasnow’s start on Tuesday. I recapped that start here, along with pointing out how dominant Glasnow has been this year. I’m guessing he’ll have just a few more starts in Bradenton before moving up.

**Prospect Highlights: Video of Tyler Glasnow and Nick Kingham From Tuesday. Here was video of Glasnow’s sixth inning, along with a video from Kingham’s start on Tuesday.

**Pirates Still Discussing Extension With Gregory Polanco. A report from Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes. It makes sense for anyone who doesn’t believe that an extension is dead after the initial offer is rejected.

**The Mystery Surrounding Alen Hanson’s Time Off. A “he said, she said” situation here. I really don’t think this matters in the long run, as long as Hanson is better off at the end of the day.

**Gerrit Cole Will Return From the DL and Start For Pirates on Saturday. I think Brandon Cumpton should be the odd man out in the rotation. He deserves to be in the majors, but (surprisingly) the Pirates have a lot of good pitchers in the big leagues right now.

**Starling Marte Clears Concussive Tests. No word yet on when he’ll return. He’s also dealing with a swollen finger.

**Minor Moves: Pirates Acquire Minor League Pitcher John Holdzkom, A.J. Morris to the DL. Information on the new guy, and not encouraging news on Morris, who was having a nice season.

**Minor League Schedule: Luis Heredia Has Struggled on the Road This Season. Heredia hasn’t been having the best year, and didn’t have a good outing the last time out.

**Just a random thought, with no article attached (yet), but I’m starting to think the Pirates aren’t so desperate for pitching. I’ll be writing more on this later (and I’ve already written a bit), but I think Jeff Locke and Vance Worley are the real deal. They’re not top of the rotation guys, but with the way the Pirates’ offense looks, I don’t think they need a rotation full of top of the rotation guys. They just need a rotation with guys who constantly give you a chance to win, and it’s looking like they’ve got that now — especially when Cole returns.

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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I am concerned about how they are using Grilli and Hurlde’s patience with him. They are using him in mop up roles and even then Hurdle is not waiting for Grilli to give up the big inning. Watching Grilli I see a guy that has not accepted his demotion, I don’t see the same fire, I see a 94-95 fast ball that is flat and straight, a breaking ball that when over the plate more resembles a hanger. Hurdle clearly has little confidence in Grilli and that matters when moves have to be made. I see the Pirates making some kind of move with Grilli sooner than later.


I can’t believe that a veteran pitcher is pouting about a demotion and therefore it is effecting his pitching.
Grilli is going to be a free agent at the end of the season, the results may not be there but it is not because his feelings are hurt.
He is pitching for a contract next season every time he goes out there.


I don’t see them moving Grilli at this point. The sample is fairly small. It is unlikely he regains his closer role, but if he’s up for it, I believe he can still be an effective RP. Guys throwing 93-94 are not a dime a dozen. Let’s wait a few weeks and a few more appearances before we throw in the towel on him.


Agreed. All he really needs is a third pitch. Split finger fastball / forkball would work well for him.


I agree, I think he’s gone Saturday, with Cumpton moving to the pen.

Chris Hale

They won’t send Cumpton to the Pen . If he is the odd man out of the rotation then he will go to AAA and start every 5th day to stay stretched out. You send him to the pen and you lose SP depth


Would you trust him in the 6th inning or do you think he sees the writing on the wall, knows he’ll never pitch the 9th again and there’s just no point in trying to salvage any confidence? Although magically our starters now go 6 plus it seems so what’s the point……….


I very much agree that the Pirates don’t need to trade for a starting pitcher. What you’re really trading for is an upgrade and the cost for that upgrade (a Price or a Samardzija) will probably be too steep. I’m not saying David Price isn’t clearly better than Vance Worley or Jeff Locke. But if you did make a trade you’d have to send Locke down or DFA Liriano most likely. Right now I think they’re better going with Cole, Morton, Locke, Worley and hoping Liriano fixes things or Volquez fills in at #5 . Bottom line I think the cost in upgrading a starter wouldn’t be worth it. Maybe they could grab a good bullpen arm which wouldn’t be too costly.


Glad to hear that an extension for Polanco is still being talked about . Just curious how many fans show up for the Bradenton’s games ?


The night Glasnow pitched 1,647 attended, yesterday a total of 897


Half the Bradenton crowd was in Tampa, I think. There were as many Bucs fans as Rays fans!

S Brooks

On another note, is it time for Grilli watch? This is getting really uncomfortable.


I’d bet that nothing happens with Grilli until Liriano comes back. If Volquez continues to be up and down, at that point they can move Volquez to the pen and DFA Grilli. But as he’s one of Hurdle’s guys, I don’t see the Bucs cutting ties until they’re forced to make a roster move.


I think Volquez stays in the rotation. If Grilli doesn’t rebound, I assume Mazzaro would be on the short list of replacements.

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