Power takes two from Kannapolis
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The Pittsburgh Pirates minor league system is often mentioned among the best in all of baseball largely in part due to the abundance of pitching prospects under the club's thumb.
Two of the names often mentioned as pitchers to keep an eye on - Tyler Glasnow and Luis Heredia - each got starts and showed why there are lofty expectations for their futures in leading West Virginia to a doubleheader sweep of visiting Kannapolis (N.C.) on Tuesday.
Glasnow (7-2) tossed six shutout innings while striking out seven and allowing just one hit in the Power's 1-0 win in the first game. Heredia (2-2) followed that by allowing three hits and one run while striking out two in five innings to help lift West Virginia into sole possession of first place in the South Atlantic League Northern Division.
"I thought it was an excellent outing," Power Manager Michael Ryan said of Heredia's performance. "I thought that he bounced back really well because his last start wasn't that good down in Asheville.
"He left some pitches out over the plate and we told him after that start that it was something he was going to learn from. You just can't leave balls out over the plate you still have to locate and I thought he did that well tonight. His family is in town and it's hard to pitch in front of your family. He handled it very well."
Both starters were helped specifically by the play of outfielder Jonathan Schwind. In the first game, Schwind beat a throw at first on an attempted double play in the fifth inning that allowed designated hitter Walker Gourley to score the game's only run.
In the second game Schwind, batting ninth, smacked a ball deep over the left field wall for a grand slam in the second inning to give the Power (55-44, 18-11 second half) an early 5-0 lead.
Schwind typically is not the starting left fielder for West Virginia, but Ryan said he had a hunch and decided to play him in both games. That hunch paid off.
"Great teams, the superstar players are consistent but nights that they have off there has got to be a different guy to pick up the slack and we've been doing that," he said.
"I try to watch these guys work during the day to see who looks good and who is getting the feel for their swing and I've seen Schwind do that.
"I like the way he's been taking (batting practice) and the way he's been doing his defensive work."
The wins were West Virginia's fifth and sixth in a row. The Power has today off before starting a series at Lexington on Thursday.
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THE BOOK on Glasnow so far has been that his fastball and curveball are elite, but his other pitchers could use some work. A point of emphasis for him this season has been to develop his changeup and that work was on display Tuesday.
Glasnow was not afraid to mix offspeed pitches in with his high-90s velocity fastball and high-80s breaking balls and effectively used the changeup to keep Kannapolis batters guessing all evening.
"It showed where he is at with (the changeup) tonight," Ryan said. "He threw it in any count, he got it over whenever he wanted and he's starting to develop trust in that pitch. He knows that it's a weapon for him now. He's going to continue to use it because it's a really good pitch. As hard as he throws, it's a good thing to keep hitters off balance and to be able to get it over in any count and throw it when he wants just shows you how he's developed that in between starts."
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THE PIRATES were forced to make a roster move with closer Jason Grilli going on the disabled list officially on Tuesday.
Pittsburgh called up former Power player Vic Black from Indianapolis to help fill out the bullpen after Grilli had to leave Monday's game against the Washington Nationals. Black spent all of 2010 and part of 2011 with West Virginia.
This season he has a 1-2 record to go with a 2.31 ERA in 35 innings pitched out of the bullpen with the Triple-A Indians.
According to Adam Marco, the team's director of media relations, if Black gets in a game for the Pirates he will be the 36th former West Virginia player to play in the Major Leagues since the franchise became the Power in 2005.
Contact Tom Bragg at email@example.com or 304-348-4871. Follow him on Twitter @TomBraggSports.