Bryant, Glasnow are Pipeline Prospects of the Year
Cubs phenom led Minors in HR, SLG, OPS; Pirates hurler led in opponents' average, was third in ERA
One led all of the Minor Leagues in home runs and slugging percentage. The other topped all pitching prospects in batting average against while finishing third in ERA. It's for those reasons that Kris Bryant of the Cubs and Tyler Glasnow of the Pirates have been chosen as MLBPipeline.com's 2014 Hitting Prospect and Pitching Prospect of the Year.
Bryant, the top prospect in the Cubs' system and No. 3 on the Top 100 list, was the unanimous choice for the top hitting prospect. The No. 2 pick in the 2013 Draft had about as good a first season of pro ball as anyone could imagine. The third baseman split the year between Double-A and Triple-A, hitting a combined .325/.438/.661. Bryant's 43 home runs were tops in the Minors, one more than the Rangers' Joey Gallo, as was his .661 slugging percentage and 1.098 OPS.
Bryant also finished second with a .438 on-base percentage and third with 110 RBIs. Just to show he wasn't a one-dimensional player, Bryant's batting average put him in the top 20 of all Minor Leaguers and he even stole 15 bases to boot.
"When I was going good, I just went with it, didn't change anything," Bryant said. "When I hit a little low point, it didn't seem to last more than two games. Having success is when you hit those low points, you minimize it. That's kind of how I went about it."
Bryant didn't even really miss a beat when he got promoted, though his numbers did dip a bit. Still, hitting .295/.418/.619 in Triple-A isn't too shabby. And the third baseman, who also received Minor League Player of the Year honors from USA Today and Baseball America, wasn't exaggerating. He never went more than two full games without a hit.
Dodgers outfield prospect Joc Pederson, who turned in a 30-30 season with Triple-A Albuquerque, was the unanimous second-place choice. Gallo, the Dodgers' Corey Seager and Red Sox prospect Mookie Betts all received votes.
Glasnow's march to Pitcher of the Year honors got started a bit late, his first start not coming until April 25 as he recovered from a back injury. But once he got rolling, he was pretty much unhittable for the rest of the Florida State League season.
Glasnow gave up more than two earned runs just three times in his 23 starts. He notched five double-digit strikeout totals, and while he was 21st in innings pitched in the FSL, he was second in K's, thanks to his 11.4 strikeout-per-nine rate. Even when Glasnow wasn't missing bats, there wasn't a ton of hard contact, as evidenced by his Minors-leading .174 batting average against and 5.4 hits per nine rate. He gave up three home runs all year.
"I'm definitely proud of what happened," said Glasnow, who'll head to the Arizona Fall League to make up for some of those lost innings. "I think I got a lot better, especially from the beginning of the year to the end. The injury was a good lesson. I was just rehabbing. That was frustrating. I'm glad I went through that at the beginning of the year. I learned a ton and I'm definitely a better pitcher now."
Glasnow had a breakout season in 2013, and some wanted to see him do it again to make sure it wasn't a one-time fluke. Glasnow's numbers improved in a few areas, including a lower walk rate, making it clear he's as legit as they come. He began the 2013 season not on the Top 100 at all, but finished it at No. 97. He shot up to 27 to start the 2014 season and is now all the way up to No. 17.
"It used to be my whole focus, to prove to people that I was better than people thought I was," said Glasnow, who pointed to improving his secondary stuff as well as his mental approach as the things he's most proud of. "Coming into this year, I wanted to do well again, and it was a bit of a thought. I wanted to show people I could do it again.
"I stopped putting so much emphasis on what people were saying. I wanted to live more in the now, not get too caught up in all that stuff. That helped."
The vote for top pitcher was a little more spread out. Blue Jays lefty Daniel Norris, Brewers right-hander Jimmy Nelson and Red Sox southpaw Henry Owens all received a good deal of support. Brian Johnson, also in the Boston organization, Nationals right-hander Lucas Giolito and young Dodgers lefty Julio Urias all received votes as well.
Bryant and Glasnow share something in common, beyond both being Pipeline honorees. In addition to having to deal with opposing players, they also had to hear a fairly constant barrage of questions about being promoted. The call for Bryant to come to Chicago, especially after fellow prospects Javier Baez and Jorge Soler were called up, was deafening. Glasnow also knew there was talk about whether he'd get bumped up to Double-A to finish the season.
"I thought about it a little bit," Glasnow said. "I wasn't too worried about it. A lot of people asked me about it and I said, 'I have no idea. I'm just going to keep pitching well.' I literally had no control over it."
"I didn't think about it at all, actually," Bryant said. "I kind of got annoyed hearing about it all the time. I tried not to read anything or hear anything. It's a big distraction and takes away from what you're doing on the field. I was just trying to focus on getting better every day. If you're not doing that, you're not going to get to the big leagues. If I'm doing that, then that day will come."