Prospect Glasnow K's 6 of 7 in 'amazing' outing

Righty striving to earn a spot in starting rotation

Prospect Glasnow K's 6 of 7 in 'amazing' outing

SARASOTA, Fla. -- General manager Neal Huntington said it best on the first day of Spring Training: When Tyler Glasnow puts it all together, he's a fun pitcher to watch.

Glasnow had everything working in his first spring appearance on Sunday afternoon, and it looked like fun for everyone but the Orioles. The Pirates' top prospect struck out six of the seven batters he faced, allowing only one single over two electric innings.

"It was fun," said Glasnow, competing for a spot in Pittsburgh's rotation. "I felt good."

It's foolish to draw sweeping conclusions from one Spring Training appearance, especially in late February. But Glasnow, MLBPipeline.com's No. 8 overall prospect, showed several encouraging signs in what catcher Elias Diaz called a "really amazing" outing.

In the third inning of Baltimore's 8-3 win over Pittsburgh, Glasnow wiped out a trio of All-Star sluggers: Manny Machado looking, then Chris Davis and Mark Trumbo swinging.

He struck out Seth Smith and Jonathan Schoop on called third strikes before giving up a hit, Welington Castillo's single to right. Glasnow promptly responded by striking out Ryan Flaherty.

His fastball was down in the zone and clocking in from 92-98 mph. He's reintroduced a two-seamer. He threw a handful of devastating curveballs, including two to Trumbo, and he threw his changeup to keep hitters off-balance.

"Six strikeouts is always good," manager Clint Hurdle said. "As Spring Training plays out, hitters get sharper. I just like the fact he threw strikes. … It's nice to see anybody, when they put some changes in and put the hard work in, have some success with it."

On the surface, it may have been difficult to see room for improvement in Glasnow. He's got the raw stuff, video-game numbers in Triple-A and a 6-foot-8 frame with long limbs and rare extension off the mound. But Glasnow learned from his shaky Major League debut and went to work.

He tweaked his changeup grip and threw it more often, saying his previously seldom-used third pitch now "feels good out of my hand." He incorporated a slide-step -- something he picked up from closer Tony Watson -- and tightened his delivery. That has provided a more consistent release point and cut down his time to the plate, which may help him better control the running game.

"It's quicker and more compact," Glasnow said. "That was one of my bigger goals going in, too, was not having everyone steal off me."

Glasnow also worked to control his emotions mechanically and mentally. When starting his throwing motion, he takes a step back and shifts his balance to prevent him from naturally drifting forward.

"Just telling myself, 'don't feed into the adrenaline,'" Glasnow said. "The more I chill out and relax and have fun, things work."

Glasnow can't control whether he makes the Pirates' Opening Day rotation over Drew Hutchison, Steven Brault or Trevor Williams, but he seems prepared to make a strong case. He began throwing earlier in the offseason, sharpening his pitches so he could unleash his full arsenal right away.

"I'm competing for a spot," he said. "I need to go out and show people what I can do.

"I think the secret is not doing more than you have to. Don't put too much pressure on yourself. … Just do everything like you know you can."

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, read his blog and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.