Robbie Glendinning Returns Stronger from Tommy John Surgery

Robbie Glendinning was in a pretty good spot going into the 2020 season. He had a strong performance in 2019, split between Bradenton and Altoona, combining for a .298/.368/.488 slash line in 101 games. That was followed by a .336/.405/.548 slash line over 40 winter league games in Australia.

Just two years later, Glendinning is in a tough spot with the Pittsburgh Pirates, but he’s preparing to come to Spring Training in two weeks in the best shape of his life and ready to compete for a job in the system.

The 2020 season was rough for every prospect who didn’t get to go to the Alternate Training Site in Altoona. Glendinning was in the early stages of Spring Training at Pirate City like everyone else when the shutdown happened. He had a chance to get in a little more time in Bradenton than almost everyone else (the prospects from Venezuela were able to hang around longer) due to travel restrictions in Australia, but he was eventually sent home not knowing when the season would get started back up.

Obviously that didn’t happen for the minor league players in 2020, but he got to play winter ball in Australia. Things were going well through 20 games, with a .343/.443/.508 slash line for the Perth Heat, until his season ended prematurely.

Glendinning suffered a complete tear of his UCL while throwing from a distance of 220 feet while playing catch in early February. He had to wait 40 days for Tommy John surgery. He’s been rehabbing since, missing the entire 2021 season, including Spring Training, as well as any chance to play winter ball.

Glendinning took the opportunity to get into better shape. He was already one of the most athletic players in the system, and he showed off plenty of power in his right-handed swing. He is 6’2″ and has always been around 200 pounds for his playing weight, but he’s currently checking in at 215 pounds, along with a lower body fat rate, which in turn has led to better running speed this winter.

The real test for Glendinning will be on the throwing side of things. He’s looked very athletic at shortstop in the past, making some extremely difficult plays. He has also put in time at second base and third base. Right now he estimates that his throwing is between 80% and 90% back to normal, but he expects to be at 100% by the time Spring Training really gets going. Once he gets back to full strength, that will decide whether or not he’s ready to make the long throws from shortstop and third base.

The hard part for Glendinning is coming into camp with just 20 games in Australia over the last two years, and now he will have to try to win a job on either Altoona — where the infield of Nick Gonzales-Liover Peguero-Jared Triolo should all move up from Greensboro — or at Indianapolis, where they will have Rodolfo Castro-Diego Castillo-Oneil Cruz-Tucupita Marcano set for infield work, along with some fringe big league players who still have options. Interestingly enough, a continuation of the lockout would help him out because Indianapolis is playing regardless, and all of those names I mentioned are on the 40-man roster.

Glendinning isn’t looking at the competition though, he’s focused on his performance. He’s going in to camp stronger, faster and (he hopes) 100% back from Tommy John surgery, trying to win a spot and get back on track towards his big league goal.

THIS WEEK ON PIRATES PROSPECTS

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John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.

When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.

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