Glasnow or Glas-later?

First, please pardon the pun. It is Spring Training after all, and we here at PBD are getting our reps in as well.

Glasnow pitched just 23.1 innings in 2016. That is hardly enough to judge any young pitcher on, regardless of esteem. Yet many were almost gleefully willing to include Glasnow in potential starting pitching deals.

That is a tough reality to swallow when it comes to a prospect that has been so highly regarded around baseball. Despite his struggles, sources such as MLB Pipeline routinely rank him in the top three Pirates prospects, as well as consistently honoring him with high baseball-wide rankings.

In all reality, barring a stirring Spring Training, Glasnow will likely begin the season with Triple-A Indianapolis. By all accounts Glasnow is working on a third pitch to go along with his four-seamer and formidable curveball. It may not be the changeup many are clamoring for – Glasnow is reportedly working on a two-seam fastball variant – but adding a third offering of any type will help Glasnow guard against hitters keying in on him.

Throughout the spring, keep an eye on comments made about Glasnow’s mechanics. Though many feel he has a very repeatable delivery, it is a long one, which may lend itself to those secondary offerings losing some effectiveness against major league hitters.

I would also expect that should Glasnow start to look uneasy in the early parts of Spring, a decision to have him start at Triple-A would likely be made sooner rather than later. This will assure some certainty in what is already a very uncertain time surrounding the Pittsburgh Pirates’ top prospect.

The New Outfield

Maybe you missed the news, but the Pittsburgh Pirates are shuffling their outfield for the 2017 season.

Indeed, the team will be using the entirety of Spring Training to ensure that Gregory Polanco, Starling Marte and Andrew McCutchen can adjust to their new roles in left, center and right field, respectively.

Though McKechnie Field Lecom Park is spacious, it is likely that the team’s time in their spring home will not fully prepare for the trio’s full time roles in the unique dimensions of PNC Park. Polanco’s coverage will not be quite as vast. Marte will have no notch to deal with. Roberto Clemente‘s presence is always felt when the Pirates are in uniform, but not in the form of a 21-foot wall in right.

Thus, it would be more worthwhile to pay attention to how the three stars work together to patrol the outfield as a unit. Of the three, Marte has the leg up on learning a new position by way of his athleticism and previous moonlighting stints there.

Polanco and McCutchen, on the other hand, will have to ditch their previous instincts and adopt new ones more or less on the fly. For McCutchen, this will mean having to take on even more new positioning to overcome perceived arm weakness. For Polanco, he will have to quickly learn to take better routes to fly balls. It would be a shame if his loud arm was muted due to taking the scenic route more often than not.

Pittsburgh Pirates fans will be gauging this move with each fly ball, making it a dominating spring training storyline by default.

These are but four of the storylines that fans and observers will be paying close attention to. Which one will you be watching for? Have a vote in our Twitter poll:

What do you think? Did we miss one? Let us know in the comments, or on Twitter and Facebook.

Jason Rollison

Jason Rollison has been analyzing baseball and the Pirates in one way or another for 4+ years. Jason's previous stops include, Pittsburgh Sporting News, Call To The Pen and several print publications. He also covers the State College Spikes for the Centre County Gazette (State College, PA) When it comes to analyzing baseball, he likes to take a middle-of-the-road approach, with one foot on the analytics side of the fence and the other on the old-school side. Having said that, he is a sucker for pitchf/x. Jason has appeared as a phone-in and in-studio guests in numerous outlets, including Trib Live Radio and 93.7 The Fan (CBS Sports Radio)