No one should ever question the honesty of Tyler Glasnow. The world of professional baseball is filled with bravado that at times hides the insecurities developing players harbor when facing some of the best talent the game has to offer. Success can produce some much-needed confidence, especially when little was present -- regardless of the outward demeanor -- in the first place.
Projected to spend the 2013 campaign in the short-season ranks, Glasnow instead earned a job in the West Virginia rotation during Spring Training and got off to a strong start with the Power. He posted a 1.80 ERA in five April starts, won his first three decisions and did not give up more than two earned runs in any outing until he surrendered four against Greensboro on May 28. Those numbers would've left many 19-year-olds strutting like a peacock. Glasnow, conversely, smiled sheepishly while admitting the truth.
"At the beginning of the year, I had no idea what I was doing," Glasnow said. "I knew I threw hard, so I just got up on the mound and threw hard. That led to a lot of strikeouts and a lot of walks, which led to high pitch counts. I was taken out after five or even four innings. My last few starts, I've been pitching more for contact and getting outs earlier in the count."
The numbers have only improved since Glasnow started to figure out what he was doing on the bump. Through July 16, he owned a 5-2 record in 17 starts and a 2.48 ERA, good for seventh in the South Atlantic League. He has limited opponents to a .153 batting average, tops in the circuit, by giving up only 40 hits in 76 1/3 innings, and ranks second with 110 strikeouts. His last start, on July 9, was one of his best -- he went a season-long six innings and held Kannapolis scoreless on three hits.
The key, according to Glasnow, has been his ability to make adjustments on his own for the first time in his career. He has listened and learned from Power pitching coach Jeff Johnson, who has taught the young hurler about the need to throw every pitch with a purpose. In the process, he has discovered how to set up hitters and what to throw in certain situations. The education has been more than Glasnow ever imagined.
"I feel good and I feel like I've been learning a lot," Glasnow said. "I really didn't know what to expect coming into this year, but I wanted to learn a lot of stuff regardless of how well I did. I feel like I've gotten the best of both worlds. I've been doing pretty well. and I feel like I've learned much more than I ever thought I would."
Drafted by Pittsburgh in the fifth round in 2011, Glasnow was considered raw by most scouts. He had excellent athleticism for a 6-foot-8 pitcher, but his command and control left something to be desired. He also had touched the low 90s with his fastball but resided most often in the mid-to-upper 80s with the pitch.
His velocity started to increase in 2012 during his professional debut, pitching in 11 games in the Gulf Coast League and making one start in the New York-Penn League. By the time he reached Spring Training this year, his heater sat in the low 90s and had been clocked as high as 96 mph.
With his fastball developing into a plus offering, Glasnow has focused on improving his changeup. Though the Pirates emphasize the pitch at the Class A level, Glasnow had never thrown one in high school or even in rookie ball. He admits he did not have a feel for the change early in the season but began to develop it through the insistence of Johnson.
"I'd say that the changeup is probably my most confident pitch to throw now," Glasnow said. "I still have some work to do on it, but from what it was at the start of the season to where it is now, I'm really happy with it."
Glasnow will not turn 20 until Aug. 23 and says he is not even thinking about a promotion. Instead, his focus is centered on building a stronger foundation with the help of Johnson in West Virginia before adding to his growing knowledge and repertoire once the current campaign comes to a close.
"I'm not putting a timetable on myself, saying I want to be here or there at a certain age," Glasnow said. "I'm not worried about moving up. I need to maintain the development of my off-speed pitches and develop a calm tempo on the mound while not trying to do too much or throw too hard. If I can do that, I'll be more consistent as I create my routine. I'm not in a rush."
Going deep: Hickory second baseman Ryan Rua became the fifth Crawdad player to garner one of the SAL's two weekly awards this season after he batted .368/.520/.895 over a six-game span, including a two-homer, six-RBI night against Hagerstown on July 10. Rua leads the Minors with 28 home runs, and Hickory is only three shy of the single-season franchise record of 135 homers. The SAL record is 173, set by Macon in 1998.
Farewell Farley: Augusta will be without its mainstay in the bullpen now that right-hander Brandon Farley was placed on the disabled list and deemed out for the season with a broken right hand. Farley was an innings-eater in relief for the GreenJackets, recording a 3.65 ERA in 56 2/3 frames over 28 outings.
Recchia on a roll: Kannapolis right-hander Mike Recchia, who was signed by the White Sox out of the Frontier League in June, overcame rain early in the game to toss seven shutout innings in a 6-0 victory over Greensboro on July 13. Making his fourth start and seventh overall appearance, Recchia allowed only two singles and hit a batter while fanning eight. He improved to 4-0 with a save and a 2.38 ERA in 22 2/3 innings.