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Glasnow's Triple-A success gets Bucs' attention

Righty focusing on being 'quick and athletic' during Minors stint
MLB.com

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Walking out of manager Clint Hurdle's office at PNC Park last month, Tyler Glasnow came to a reassuring realization, upsetting as it may have been. The heralded prospect had just been sent down to Triple-A Indianapolis following the first extended disappointing stretch in his professional career.

"It was like, 'All right, so this is probably as bad as it's going to get,'" Glasnow said Wednesday, smiling. "I hadn't really ever done bad. I came down here, and I was like, 'Whatever. Just pitch well.'"

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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Walking out of manager Clint Hurdle's office at PNC Park last month, Tyler Glasnow came to a reassuring realization, upsetting as it may have been. The heralded prospect had just been sent down to Triple-A Indianapolis following the first extended disappointing stretch in his professional career.

"It was like, 'All right, so this is probably as bad as it's going to get,'" Glasnow said Wednesday, smiling. "I hadn't really ever done bad. I came down here, and I was like, 'Whatever. Just pitch well.'"

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Glasnow has done just that, and he may soon give the Pirates something to think about. In five starts since his demotion, the righty has posted a 1.84 ERA with 49 strikeouts in 29 1/3 innings, while opponents have posted a .168/.274/.287 slash line against him.

Glasnow's walk total (15) and high pitch counts (an average of 94 pitches and not quite six innings per Triple-A start) remain red flags. He caught the Bucs' attention with his June 26 start against Durham, however: seven scoreless innings, two hits, two walks and 12 strikeouts -- and only 88 pitches to get it done.

"We're seeing absolute signs of him pitching at a Major League level while being at Triple-A," general manager Neal Huntington said, "but we also have some work to do there."

Glasnow put together video-game numbers in the Minors, and it translated to a 7.45 ERA and a 1.91 WHIP in 12 starts with the Pirates this season. Speaking in the visitors' dugout at Huntington Park, Glasnow seemed comfortable and confident, in part because of a mechanical overhaul he made last month.

From the moment he reported to Spring Training, Glasnow tinkered with his delivery. He added (and later removed) a rock step, slowed down his leg kick and adjusted his stride length. Glasnow told pitching coach Ray Searage he wanted to be quick and athletic, but he couldn't find that feeling on the mound.

Glasnow felt slow. When his fastball came in hot, it also came in flat. Glasnow lacked deception, and hitters teed off on him. He learned to compete with what he had, but it was rarely his best stuff.

"They sent me down because I was not doing so well up there," Glasnow said. "You've got to go down. They obviously knew something was different. They were like, 'You're not the same pitcher. You can tell. Just go down and figure it out.' They were really cool about it."

While warming up for his first Triple-A start on June 15 in Norfolk, Va., Glasnow told himself, "All right, quick and athletic." He ditched his windup and pitched from the stretch. He sped up his delivery and found he was still on time. Everything felt normal again, he said -- even better than last year.

Glasnow's curveball and changeup have been more consistent. His fastball velocity is up -- and staying there, unlike the wildly fluctuating readings he produced in the Majors. Glasnow achieved one of his goals: Stop focusing on mechanics.

"It was just a really easy mechanical adjustment," Glasnow said. "Once I did it, I was like, 'OK, there you go,' and I haven't really had to think about it ever since."

While the thought consumed him at times last year, Glasnow said he isn't particularly focused on when he'll get back to the Majors, either. That's something for the Bucs to think about.

"Of course I want to go back up as soon as I can," Glasnow said. "I have zero control over that right now. I'm just going continue to do what I'm doing here and solidify everything I'm doing, and then whatever happens, happens."

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.

Pittsburgh Pirates, Tyler Glasnow