Scouting Report Giants Pitcher Kyle Crick
The highest upside pitching prospect I’ve seen this season in the South Atlantic league is San Francisco Giants prospect and Augusta GreenJackets right hander Kyle Crick. Now, I didn’t get to see Dylan Bundy or Jose Fernandez pitch during their stints in the Sally; however, I’ve seen some good pitching prospects come through, guys like Mets prospect Michael Fulmer and Crick’s teammate Clayton Blackburn.
In the game I scouted this week, Crick went seven scoreless innings, allowing one hit, walking three and striking out seven Rome Braves hitters. The only hit was a lined single to left by Braves prospect Brandon Drury on an unusually flat 94 MPH Fastball. While dominate, there are many things this youngster, a relatively new to pitching pitcher, needs to improve before he is advanced to San Jose, the Giants High A affiliate in the California League.
Kyle Crick is a solidly built man, tall and thick. He still has some projection left and will no doubt get stronger as he moves through the Giants farm system. I hate making lazy comps, like player X looks like player Y on theirbig league club, but Kyle Crick, physically, looks a lot like Giants pitcher Matt Cain on the pitching rubber. He also has an electric fastball to match Cain’s Fastball too, We’ll talk about his fastball later.
There are two words you are going to hear a lot from me in the next few paragraphs, consistency and tempo. Along with becoming more than a two pitch pitcher, these attributes are going to turn Kyle Crick into a star. The next two paragraphs are going to sound negative but I think it’s my duty to explain some of the struggles I believe have contributed to his excessively high walk rate of 6.1 walks per nine innings.
Let us use our imaginations for one moment. Imagine for a second what it feels like to see an ex-girlfriend (or ex-boyfriend if that’s your preference) that you still have feelings for out with another man. If you’re like me, you shake your head and catch a few peaks at the happy couple, stewing because it should be you smiling back at her. Well, this is how Kyle Crick reacts when he throws a pitch that he cannot command. When Crick is commanding his pitches, he’s ready to throw his next pitch right after receiving the pitch from the catcher. You can observe this for yourself in the video attached below. When he fails to command a pitch, he stands in front of the mound mad at himself, sneaking peaks towards the batter’s box till finally taking the mound again for his sign. It’s even worse when he fails to command several pitches in a row. He will walk around the mound, grab the rosin bag and slowly make his way back to the mound. The quick worker I observed most of the game becomes a slug trying to aim his pitches. In the fourth, he exhibited this behavior, walking the leadoff hitter on five pitches. The coaching staff allowed him some wiggle room to regain his composure; and, for a minute, he regained it, striking out the next batter; however, after throwing ball one to the Braves next hitter, Crick got back in his sluggish routine again. After he walked the batter, his struggles prompted a mound visit. After the mound visit, the fast tempo Kyle Crick returned, at least till he gave up a leadoff single in the 5th inning.
It’s just not a lack of maintaining a consistent tempo that hurts Crick’s command, it’s also failing to maintain a consistent delivery and release point. As I touched on in the first paragraph, Crick is a new to pitching type, first moving to the mound a few summers ago. Pitching is still a whole new world to him. It’s clear to see this in the video. When his mechanics are right, nothing stops this kid from dominating the competition. When he falls of the mound, when he changes his release point and/or when he doesn’t completely follow through on his pitches, you see the kid that has walked 59 batters and hit 10 other batters in 87 innings pitched this season. This outing, even though he only walked three, could have been a complete game, one hit shutout if it wasn’t for these hiccups with consistency. His stuff was that good during this game that he should have finished it. He just needs to repeat his motion as much as possible to obtain consistency.
I put Crick’s fastball in the same company as Mariners prospect Taijuan Walker, its explosive. My favorite at bat I videotaped all season was the first inning, three pitch strikeout of Braves Prospect William Beckwith. While Beckwith isn’t a top prospect, he’s a better hitter than Crick made him look. Anyway, Crick started Beckwith off with two four-seam fastballs that just ate him up. Then, he dialed up his fastball to 96 and painted the lower half of the strike zone for strike three. Beckwith complained but it was as unhittable of a strike that I’ve seen this season.
Crick generates a good bit of power from his legs, which are very tree trunkish. His biggest attribute, his arm speed, is what truly sets him apart. You can go through our video archives and watch as many videos of pitchers that you can muster, and it would be hard to find one or two pitchers with Crick’s arm speed. He primarily worked 92 to 94 MPH, maintaining that velocity throughout the seven innings he pitched. To me, as he continues to build strength and consistency, he will become a pitcher who primarily works in the mid 90s, touching the upper 90s. I would say that right now this is a plus offering, with the potential of becoming plus-plus as matures.
He only featured one secondary pitch, a low 80s curveball that was more slurvy in nature compared to the traditional 12-6 pitch. He only threw the curve about 15% of the time. While I wouldn’t say this pitch is a plus pitch now, it certainly could become one with more consistency. Not one hitter put a good swing on the pitch but no one on the Braves went out of the strike zone to chase this pitch, even though a few of these benders were quite good. Part of it may have been his reaction when he spun off a good curve, usually falling towards the first base line, or maybe they were just sitting on the fastball and were willing to let the curve go by. I don’t know.
I talked about establishing a consistent Tempo and consistently repeating his delivery but I didn’t touch on the addition of a third pitch. The Giants are doing the smart thing by not having him add to his repertoire until the other two areas addressed in this report are corrected. However, once he becomes consistent, I would like to see him start mixing in a changeup. A changeup would benefit his fastball mightily, even if the changeup is below average at best. He will just need a pitch to show, keeping the hitters honest.
With Gary Brown struggling in Richmond and Z### W###### (I’m not going to say his name cause I respect the Giants fanbase too much) having been traded to the Mets last season for Carlos Beltran, Kyle Crick is the Giants top prospect. I look for him to continue to climb up prospect charts. I think he is better than the ranking we gave him in the Bullpen Banter Midseason Top Prospect list. I would say, at season’s end, he’ll crack a few top 50 prospect lists and will be in prime position to accelerate into the top 20 prospects in baseball by this time next season.