Glasnow feels good in return from sprained ankle
Pirates No. 1 prospect joins team's first- and second-round picks in Black Bears' first game
GRANVILLE, W. Va. -- To focus on the results Friday night at Monongalia County Ballpark would be missing the bigger picture.
Results aside, Pirates top prospect Tyler Glasnow felt good in his first start since going on the Minor League disabled list with a sprained ankle.
And despite a forgettable 15-7 loss to Mahoning Valley, the Pirates' new short-season Class A West Virginia affiliate enjoyed an opening night to remember.
Glasnow made a unique rehab start, throwing the first pitch in West Virginia Black Bears history with several of the Pirates' top Draft picks behind him, including first-rounder Kevin Newman at shortstop and second-rounder Kevin Kramer at second base.
"Proud of the whole club," said Pirates director of Minor League operations Larry Broadway. "It could have been a rough game to get through -- it was still a rough game to get through -- but they didn't quit."
Pitching for the first time since May 17, Glasnow breezed through a nine-pitch first inning then ran into trouble. The right-hander maxed out his pitch count before he could finish the second, departing after throwing 38 pitches in 1 1/3 innings.
Glasnow, baseball's No. 11 prospect, said he felt good physically and attributed some of his difficulties to rust, particularly with his curveball. His fastball was electric as ever, hitting 97 mph on the stadium's radar gun.
"To see him get back out there to show that he was strong and healthy was a big step," Broadway said.
Glasnow will make another start with the Black Bears, Broadway added, before returning to Double-A Altoona.
"It felt weird going up and throwing," said Glasnow, who was 2-2 with a 2.76 ERA with Altoona. "I just haven't done it in so long, just the game atmosphere."
The Black Bears went on to lose by eight runs, but a few recent Draft picks recorded notable firsts in their professional debuts.
Newman picked up his first hit, a single to center field. So did Kramer, on an infield single. Outfielder Logan Hill, the Bucs' 25th-round pick last week, drove in the franchise's first run.
"To finally be here and play, it's everything I imagined. It's amazing," Newman said. "It didn't go as we planned, but we'll come back out tomorrow and try to get a win. ... That's one of the best things about baseball."
Formerly the Jamestown Jammers in New York, the Black Bears opened their inaugural campaign Friday night in grand fashion.
Pirates chairman Bob Nutting and president Frank Coonelly were among those recognized in a pregame ceremony. Kent Tekulve threw out the first pitch with manager Wyatt Toregas crouched behind the plate.
Before the game, Pat O'Conner, the president of Minor League Baseball, addressed the sold-out crowd of 3,019, marveling at the scenic hillside view beyond the outfield wall.
"How about this place, folks?" O'Conner said. "Isn't this a beautiful sight?"
What happened on the field Friday night may not have been, but the Pirates expect to see plenty in the years to come.