TAMPA — He stands 6 feet, 8 inches tall but faces an even taller order as the Rays season looms.
Can Tyler Glasnow, can’t-miss pitching prospect, step into the rotation just back of Cy Young winner Blake Snell and the $15-million man, Charlie Morton? There is a lot riding on his performance. The bullpen can’t be the No. 3 starter, right?
On paper, it’s not all that great looking. Glasnow lasted three-plus innings in Tampa on Tuesday in his fourth start this spring, knocked around by the New York Yankees’ front line, as Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and Gary Sanchez had their way with him. Glasnow gave up five earned runs. He’s 0-4 this spring with an 11.00 ERA.
Doesn’t exactly seem like a No. 3 man. Yet.
“I guess I kind of beat myself today, it didn’t really matter who was up there,” Glasnow said. “But that’s what spring is for, up there trying to get a feel for things.”
“I didn’t take too much from it,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “He just fell behind. We all know how talented that group they threw out there is.”
“The third inning got away from him a little bit,” Rays pitching coach Kyle Snyder said. “Some of the things he’s trying to prioritize, he’s trying to balance in the middle of the game, between the white lines, man.”
The balance the Rays are trying to strike is one that says you can trade Chris Archer to the Pirates last season and get more in return. Glasnow, along with the talented outfielder Austin Meadows, is that return.
It’s the Ray Way, where trades beget more trades, where the Matt Garza trade begat Chris Archer and now Archer begets Meadows and Glasnow, whose heat (98 mph a couple of times Tuesday) and breaking ball point to another in the long blue line of Rays pitching prospects.
Is this the next Snell?
And will Snell be gone before Glasnow truly arrives?
There is always another question like that with the Rays.
Glasnow had some moments after the Rays acquired him last July. He and his right arm made 11 starts and went 1-4 with a 4.20 ERA, but he gave up one run or fewer in five of those starts, three hits or fewer in six and two hits or fewer in three of those starts.
After his Rays debut, his opponents’ batting average (.208) ranked sixth in the American League. Between Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay, Glasnow struck out 136 batters in 111.2 innings. He averaged 96.5 mph on his fastball after the trade and his velocity topped out at 100.2 on the gun in an August start.
This man is armed.
But is he any good?
“I think the last two months of last season, between the stuff and progression, there are a lot of similarities between Tyler and Blake,” Snyder said. “You could have made the argument heading into the season last year that Blake was kind of in the same boat.”
Glasnow grew 11 inches between his freshman and senior years at William S. Hart High School in Santa Clarita, Calif., the same alma mater as former Rays pitcher James Shields. The two men have never met. But they share the long blue line.
Back to Glasnow’s skyscraper body.
“It’s always been a struggle for me to get everything timed up,” Glasnow said. “I think everyone is on a learning curve. It’s really about just getting ready for season. Some days are more learning experiences than others.”
“He’s super talented,” Cash said. “We saw that at times after we got him last year. Just hoping he can build off that, that progression we’ve seen a lot of our young pitchers make over many, many years in this organization. Tyler is equipped as well as any of them.”
So, what’s a little Yankees feeding frenzy at this point this spring?
“At the end of the day, he’s going to see those guys quite a bit this year,” Snyder said. “I have every bit of confidence he’s going to be very, very successful.”
“The velocity was really good today, 97, 98 a couple of times,” Cash said. “I think most pitchers, young, veteran, whatever, they’re all able to reach a different level when the bright lights come on and I anticipate Tyler will be the same.”
Tall order just the same.
Contact Martin Fennelly at [email protected] or (813) 731-8029. Follow @mjfennelly