Former Newhall Hart High pitcher Tyler Glasnow will be the starting pitcher for the Tampa Bay Rays in Tuesday's Game 1 of the World Series against the Dodgers at Globe Life Field in Texas. It will be another chance to spotlight the success of the Indians' program under coach Jim Ozella.
Ozella and his assistants get their players ready for the next level. In the case of Glasnow, he was barely scratching the surface of his talent during his senior year in 2011. The Pittsburgh Pirates signed the right-hander as a fifth-round draft pick.
"There's no straight line to success," Ozella said. "He is a perfect example. He had one offer on the table from the University of Portland. His progress continued to go up. Everyone loved his curveball, how sharp it was. He had size 15 shoes. The hands are huge. You couldn't see the baseball in his hand. He kept growing. He was 6-6 his senior year, and now he's 6-8. Physically, he continued to develop and it's really a testament to him."
Glasnow showed signs of potential.
"There were games he'd put it all together, strike out 10 or 12, and then there were games he'd struggle," Ozella said. "I think his velocity by senior year was maybe 88 mph.”
It's now above 100 mph on occasion. He had 91 strikeouts in 57 1/3 innings this season. Tampa Bay acquired Glasnow and two others from the Pirates in 2018 trade deadline deal for pitcher Chris Archer. Glasnow has become an integral part of the Rays’ rotation.
In 2011, the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw won the NL Cy Young Award, the same year Glasnow graduated from Hart. To imagine nine years later Glasnow would be starting on the mound against Kershaw in the World Series presents the opportunity of a lifetime.
“It’s unbelievable,” Glasnow said Monday. “Being the Dodgers, where I’m from, it’s a special moment for me. But I’m just preparing like it would be any other start — go out and compete and do as well as I can.”
The scout who signed Glasnow as a 17-year-old, Rick Allen, still works for the Pirates.
“We were on the hunt for some big-frame right-handed starting pitching that had upside,” Allen said. “He didn’t throw real hard in high school but you had to dream on it. He signed and took off. Tyler got better every year. We saw it as an opportunity to take a chance and see if we could get on him at a young age. It’s awesome to see what he’s become.”
Glasnow would come back to Hart to work out when he was in the minors, and Hart players were thrilled to see him. Ozella said Glasnow was always humble. One time he asked what was happening at Hart and Ozella told him they had a Saturday winter game. "Can I come to watch from the dugout?" Glasnow said.
"He's a great kid," Ozella said. "You see that in the interviews on TV. He shows his personality and character. He's bubbling, excited, honest.”
With Glasnow, Trevor Bauer, Mike Montgomery and Pat Valaika currently representing Hart in the majors — and several more former Hart players in the minors who could be in the majors soon — the Indians are carrying on an impressive baseball tradition.
“Just happy for him and happy for his family,” Allen said. “It’s what dreams are about, pitching in the World Series, and for him growing up in Los Angeles watching the Dodgers makes it even sweeter.”
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.