Recently THE NatsGM Show Producer Josh Owens asked me a relatively simple question – “Where did Koda Glover come from?” Certainly there was some humor implied in the query, but also plenty of truth, as Glover has gone from a relatively anonymous prospect into a force in Washington’s bullpen in one year.
Washington selected Glover in the 8th round of the 2015 MLB Draft from Oklahoma State, where he served as the Cowboys’ closer. Glover pitched only 23.2 innings in 2015, allowing 20 hits and 7 walks against 28 strikeouts. Coming into the draft, Glover was known to have legitimate 94-96mph fastball velocity, along with a woefully inconsistent upper-80s slider. Possessing a large 6-5 225lbs frame and easy plus velocity, Glover was still difficult to scout due to his lack of collegiate innings, and his pure relief profile made him project outside the top-5 rounds.
Washington signed him to a $200,000 bonus and aggressively promoted him to Low-A Hagerstown last season. The Nationals continued to challenge the 23-year-old Glover, starting him at High-A this season and pitching 9.2 innings before a promotion to Double-A Harrisburg. 22.1 dominant innings at Double-A forced yet another promotion for Glover, who continued to overwhelm hitters at Triple-A, posting a 2.25 ERA over 24 innings. A combination of injuries to Washington’s bullpen and his impressive statistics allowed him to reach the majors in late-July, making his debut on July 20th. In limited time thus far in Washington, Glover has continued to gather outs, posting a 3.00 ERA with 12 strikeouts against 7 hits and 4 walks in 12 innings pitched.
Since the draft, Washington has refined his delivery and improved his slider, watching the pitch go from an inconsistent, fringe-average offering to a present above-average, whiff inducing weapon. In addition, Glover’s fastball velocity has also increased, as he has averaged 98mph on his heater in the majors. Furthermore, Glover possesses impressive moxie on the mound, challenging hitters with an obvious bulldog mentality. Overall Glover has an easy “65” fastball and a “55/50” slider, along with an occasional curveball and changeup. Combined with solid command and control of the strike zone, this allows Glover to profile as a late-inning, high-leverage major league reliever.
Washington’s scouting and development departments must be commended for finding and developing Glover – first the Oklahoma area scout had to work hard to see him pitch, then be aggressive enough to get his superior to also watch Glover pitch, then successfully lobby for his selection inside the top-10 rounds. This is no small feat for an area scout. Next Washington’s pitching coaches worked to streamline his delivery and develop his slider from a “45/50” pitch in college into a “55/50” in a year, another near miraculous development. Without these improvements, Glover was likely destined to be a minor league reliever: now he looks to be a major cog in Washington’s bullpen going forward.
Certainly none of this occurs without the diligence of Koda Glover, but Washington must also be applauded for seeing his raw talent and helping it blossom. Getting an 8th round pick to the majors is impressive in itself, but getting a potential impact player that late makes him one of the best values in the 2015 draft.