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Thursday, December 1, 2022

Top 10 Pitchers: Tyler Glasnow and Nick Kingham Continue to Dominate

Below are the pitching Game Scores* in the Pittsburgh Pirates’ farm system from the last week. The top ten scores are highlighted in the write-up below. 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.

In terms of pitching game scores, anything that scores a 65 or better is considered a “gem”. The Pirates farm system had ten “gems” this week. Here are the top performers.

1t. Tyler Glasnow – Glasnow has been amazing lately, posting an 0.39 ERA in the month of June, with a 24:10 K/BB ratio in 23 innings. The run he gave up in this start was the first run he had allowed since May 22nd. That spans over a month without an earned run, not counting the one run he allowed in a cancelled game in the middle of June. I wrote about Glasnow’s start this week, and noted that he’s probably not too far off from a promotion to Double-A. A few more starts like this, and he could see that promotion.

1t. Orlando Castro – Castro’s start was one night after Glasnow, and might have been more impressive, despite the same game score. What made this impressive is that Castro only needed 65 pitches to get through seven shutout innings. He was pounding the strike zone, getting quick outs, and wasn’t giving up hits. I took a video of his performance here. Castro is another candidate to make the jump to Altoona soon.

3. Joely Rodriguez – Rodriguez seems to alternate back and forth between a good start and a bad start. This time he had a good outing, giving up one run on one hit in seven innings, with two walks and four strikeouts. Rodriguez is showing good control in the upper levels, but isn’t striking out a lot of guys. He’s getting a good ground ball rate, but not as good as previous seasons. He’s looking more like a potential back of the rotation starter or bullpen candidate without the strikeouts and with the lower ground ball ratio.

4. Nick Kingham – Kingham is on the list twice this week, and is off to an amazing start in Triple-A. In his first 26.2 innings, he has given up just one earned run, with a 20:5 K/BB ratio. His best start this week saw 6.2 innings where he gave up an unearned run on two hits and two walks, with five strikeouts. Kingham could end up being an option for the majors at some point in the second half.

5. Omar Basulto – Basulto is off to a good start in Bristol, especially when you consider that he made the jump straight from the DSL. He threw five shutout innings this week, giving up one hit and no walks. That followed five innings with one run last week. He does come with the usual left-handed pitcher disclaimer in the lower levels, since most lefties with good control are going to have success in short-season ball. I’d expect him to continue having success this year, and he might get another aggressive push to West Virginia next year.

6. Jay Jackson – Jackson has done a great job filling in for the Indianapolis rotation. He has a 3.73 ERA in 41 innings as a starter, with a 44:20 K/BB ratio. He could emerge as a bullpen option for the Pirates by the end of the season, but it’s more likely that he remains in Triple-A to take innings in place of the depth options who get called up to Pittsburgh.

7. Nick Kingham – The second start for Kingham came on Sunday, when he threw six shutout innings, giving up four hits, two walks, and striking out five.

8. Luis Heredia – Heredia had his best start of the year this week, throwing six shutout innings, with four hits and just one walk. The one walk was encouraging, as control has been an issue for him. John Dreker wrote an article on Heredia last week, noting that Heredia’s stuff seems to be going in the wrong direction. He’s still very young, and younger than most of the players the Pirates selected in the 2014 draft — all of which are at least one level below Heredia. It’s way too early to write him off, but any dreams of him being a top of the rotation starter have to be seen as unlikely at this point.

9t. Casey Sadler – Sadler has been great since coming back down to Indianapolis and getting regular playing time. He wasn’t on a very good schedule in Pittsburgh, being used as the last guy out of the bullpen. Since returning to a five day schedule, he has a 0.50 ERA in 18 innings. This week he threw seven shutout innings, giving up seven hits, one walk, and striking out three. He will remain a depth option for the Pirates this year, but seems more likely to be used as a reliever, since he’s behind several other people in the starting pitching depth charts.

9t. Jason Creasy – Creasy had two good starts this week, which combined would make him one of the top pitchers in the system for the week. His best start saw six innings with one run on four hits, no walks, and five strikeouts. He had a start earlier in the week where he gave up one run on eight hits in seven innings, with no walks and three strikeouts. That start was tied for the 12th best in the system.

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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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R Edwards

On a different but related subject…..looks like Willy Garcia has started to figure out AA pitching. Two more HRs tonight in Bowie – he’s on quite a roll. I am going to Bowie Thursday night to see Altoona play there – looking forward to seeing Hansen, Diaz, Garcia, etc. Does anyone know who is scheduled to start for Altoona Thursday night??

Dom DiDominic

BP top 50 coming out in a week. Taillon, Glasnow, Bell & McGuire are in that order.

Simon Weaver

I’d like to see Jason Creasy find his way on the top 20 list. Very confident he’s the next projectable HS RHP. Won’t be as good as Kingham (#3) but back end of the rotation. I think Heredia is still legit assuming he really is 19. When he’s not hurt or out of shape he puts up zero’s or quality start every time

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