The Pirates' trade with the Rays last season, sending Tyler Glasnow, Austin Meadows and Shane Baz — then a "player to be named later" — to Tampa in exchange for Chris Archer has been widely and accurately maligned.
Glasnow and Meadows have become All-Star caliber players for the Rays, while Baz, a 2017 first-round pick by the Pirates, is 3-1 with a 3.40 ERA, 61 strikeouts and a 1.245 WHIP for Class A Bowling Green this year.
It's easy to focus on Glasnow and Meadows in this equation, but Baz — MLB.com's 96th overall rated prospect — remains a key piece of the puzzle as well. Speaking with MiLB.com, Baz talked about that surprising trade, the differences between the Pirates' and the Rays' systems, and more.
"It definitely was not what I was expecting," Baz said. "I didn't even know what a 'player to be named later' was. It was kinda weird. It was definitely a shock. The Pirates made a few deals last year, so our team [in Bristol] knew that a guy or two in that clubhouse would go, but I definitely didn't expect it to be me. I saw the trade for Meadows and Glasnow and thought they'd be elite, as they have been this year. So you're not expecting a high-up prospect to be that player named later. I kind of left the day in shock, but the Rays welcomed me with open arms."
While Glasnow never developed into the elite pitcher many expected in Pittsburgh, the 6-foot-8 right-hander set MLB on fire for the Rays in the early part of this season before missing time with a forearm injury. He's 6-1 in eight starts this year, pitching 48.1 innings while putting up a 1.86 ERA, 0.910 WHIP and 55 strikeouts against nine walks.
That, plus Baz's success in the minors, calls into question the development and coaching provided by the Pirates.
Baz almost went down that road before catching himself and instead offered the following:
"Almost immediately, the Rays were more -- I don't want to talk bad about the Pirates -- just completely different, honestly," Baz said. "It was a whole new perspective, a new approach to pitching ...
"I saw pretty quickly that I would be big in spin rate and that stuff. They told me my fastball would have the top spin rate in the majors, if I was pitching there right now. I don't have to be right at the knees every time because the movement is going to be so good, guys aren't going to hit the fastball anyway. The slider is so hard, too, that it's going to be a good pitch as long as the arm slot is the same. The same with my curve and change. That was the first thing they showed me, and when I saw it in action, I just thought, 'OK, great.' Instructs (rookie ball) was a good little trial run, and I've carried that into this year."
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