Sunday, December 22, 2013

DrB's 2014 Giants Top 50 Prospects: #1 Kyle Crick

Kyle Crick  RHP:  DOB 11/30/1992.  6'4", 220 lbs.  Drafted Supplemental First Round #49 2011.

High A:  3-1, 1.57, 68.2 IP, 39 BB, 95 K.

AFL:  0-1, 2.87, 15.2 IP, 11 BB, 24 K.

As is often the case, the Giants farm system has a consensus #1 top prospect and the consensus has it right!  Despite a 6 week layoff early in the season for an oblique strain, Crick put a headlock on the #1 position by demonstrating dominant stuff and with dominant performances on the field.

On the mound, he looks so much like Matt Cain if you did not know which one was pitching, you probably could not tell just by looking from the stands, all the way from his physical appearance down to his stance, windup and delivery.  Much like Cain, he features a hard, hopping fastball that sits at 96 MPH.  Also like Cain, especially in his early days, his secondary stuff is still developing and inconsistent leaving him without an out pitch at times.  He has a hard curveball with decent downward bite when he can command it.  His changeup sits in the high 80's and even the low 90's!  I know I saw some pitches that I could not identify as anything other than changeups that were 90 and 91 MPH.  In a recent interview, Jeff Arnold mentioned that his changeup is a bit firm and he ideally needs to achieve more separation in velocity from the FB.

Folks will undoubtedly bring up the walk rates, which are a concern.  I believe these are fixable and in the process of being fixed.  Crick's inconsistency in control is more game-to-game than pitch-to-pitch or inning-to-inning.  He has games where he keeps the walks down to 0-2, so has shown the ability to maintain control through a full start. In his last 4 AFL appearances he pitched 9 innings with 12 K's and just 3 BB's.  I believe that by the time he arrives in the major leagues, he will not be walking people in bunches.

Brian Sabean has said that the only thing holding him back right now is the need to ramp up his innings to MLB levels in the wake of the early season layoff.  I expect him to start the season heading the rotation in AA Richmond where he should dominate as long as he stays healthy, with the possibility of a midseason promotion to Fresno.  An MLB appearance sometime in 2014 is not out of the question.

21 comments:

  1. You know, I have high hopes for the MLB Giants next season. If everyone proves healthy, I really think they'll return to playoff form. The problem is, I don't know if I believe that they'll stay healthy all season. That being said, I am just as excited, if not more, to follow the progress of guys like Crick next season. For a guy who is the consensus #1 prospect in the system, he sure does take a lot of heat from people about the walk rates. My guess is that many of those people are only looking at the stat lines, and have never seen him pitch when his stuff is in the strike zone. Like you say, DrB, when he is on, he doesn't miss... it really is a game-to-game thing, and is probably related to his inexperience.

    Madison Bumgarner turned me into a "prospect hound" back in 2008. I remember listening to his Augusta starts through the radio feed on MiLB.com. No matter how his career goes from here, I'll always feel a little more of a connection to him than guys like Cain or Lincecum, primarily because he was my guy in the minors. That's how I'm starting to feel about Crick. While others talk about what he can or can't do, or how the Giants are "falling apart" as a franchise, I'll be listening in to his AA starts, and hoping for a healthy season. The sky really is the limit for this kid.

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    1. Watching future star players when they are in the minors can be a very rewarding experience as well as disappointing. My whole family is so proud of the ball Matt Cain signed for us after pitching in Rancho Cucamonga with us sitting right next to the Giants dugout, home plate side. We also have one from Merkin Valdez, but his career didn't work out so well. I think there is always something a little more special about a player you knew about when they were in the minor leagues and watched them break in as rookies.

      As for Crick, I think the only thing stopping him, as with all pitchers, is the possibility of injury. He's got both the dominant stuff and the on-field performance. All he needs from here on out is a little more conistency, refinement of his secondary stuff and a bit of savvy about pitching his way out of trouble. All of those should come with experience.

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    2. And we got one from Ricky! He was very nice, singed and posed for photograph for a bunch of other fans.

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  2. Is it possible that Crick could be just a little more than a year behind Zach Wheeler? Let's say Crick dominates with stuff in AA, but continues to refine pitches, gets a few AAA starts, then gets the call out of the pen for a late season Giants push, much like what the Cardinals have been doing with their young bucks. Then he starts 2015 in the rotation out of the gates like Wheeler this year.

    Is there any good reason to think Wheeler will be superior pitcher at this juncture?

    As for the command issues, it may just come down to how his arm feels on certain days. It's those days when the arm is particularly electric that the release point can be hard to find. The arm gets ahead or lags behind the rest of the body. A matter of timing. Everything will hopefully all come together between 92-95 mph like a young Matt Cain.

    As exciting as the upper 90's heat can be, it just seems like these guys pitch at a higher risk of elbow ligament damage like Matt Harvey. Knock on wood for Crick.

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    1. I do think Crick was a big part of the reason the Giants felt they could afford to trade Wheeler, but I don't want to get bogged down again in THAT discussion. It's fair to say that at this point Crick has at least as high a ceiling and is 1-2 years behind him in career trajectory.

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    2. While I also do not want to go into the Wheeler trade (I believe that it was the right thing to do given the circumstances), I do wonder about who the FO thought could take Wheeler's place. Crick is one possibility, but the FO had to know that Crick would not be ready until 2015/16, and that the team might need a starter in 2014 given Zito's and Vogelsong's status. Therefore, it is likely that they were counting on someone else. Who disappointed the most? Heston? Surkamp? Kickham???

      Anon #1

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    3. Anon #1,

      Well you DID get into it didn't you? OK, one more time! Zito really wasn't that hard to replace on the open market now, was he? They resigned Vogey easily enough and could probably replace him fairly easily with another dumpster dive. The key to all this is Cain and Timmy and when they are going to need to be replaced. Those two are where I believe Sabes and Tidrow figured they had more of a window than maybe they do. It all depends on whether they can bounce back in 2014 or not.

      I also do not think they were pacing out the exact distances and calculating exact career tenures and arrivals on the MLB level. It was also more than just Kyle Crick. It was Crick Blackburn, Gregorio, Flores, Mejia. They would not decimating the long term pitching depth of the organization by trading one top prospect.

      OK. No more about the Wheeler trade! Is that clear?

      The Giants pitching talent going forward is in terrific shape and that is all that matters. Cainer and Timmy need to bounceback, and I think there is a good chance they will, or there may be a small down window before the cavalry rides to the rescue.

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    4. I think Sabean was more upset with Kickham's performance than Surkamp's, that was my interpretation of the presser. The Giants actually got Surkamp rehabbed from TJ in record time, that was a good job by the training staff.

      As far as Wheeler, which is very old sour milk at this point, I think they saw a guy who would take a while to get there, they spent a lot of time explaining that was their job to go get more arms. And they knew what they had with Crick and Blackburn from the draft, which had happened almost two months before.

      If Tim Hudson can show Tim Lincecum how to pitch to contact better, that signing will have a hidden value that could be extremely valuable. We'll see.

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    5. I'll agree with Shankbone here and close the book on it.

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    6. Teams do not always have someone slotted to replace whoever they trade. At least in the same timeframe. If that were so, then that players name would have come up in the trade talks instead.

      Teams often make trades for the opportunity in the moment. That is all there really needs to be said.

      If you are going to question it, then I would throw the question back to you, how many of your proposed trades would have worked out well given performances afterward? The Giants knew to keep their top prospects, they only traded them after they gave the prospects shots and they failed. But they kept Cain, Lincecum, Sanchez, Posey, Bumgarner, Sandoval, Belt, Crawford, Wilson, Romo, that is a pretty good record of keeping talent, as the good ones they did not trade away. I do not know how many times I have seen people who have openly asked to trade one of these players way before the Giants might have let go, or worse, they were willing to release the player for nothing. The Giants record is clean in not letting go of good talent, so far, we will see with Wheeler.

      But that is not the point, as DrB and others have been saying. The Giants had an opportunity to get in the playoffs and once in, their pitching takes over. They made a trade to ensure that and it did not work out, the Giants went down almost as son as they got him because he was not hitting, then was out injured. Had Beltran hit as well as he did in other trades, they might have made the playoffs, it was a risk that the had to take, because, as Shankbone likes to say, flags fly forever. It was a calculated risk that did not pay off in 2011 but did in 2012. If you do not like taking risks then you should not follow sports, there is a lot of risk taking you have to accept. This was one of them.

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    7. OGC,

      Actually, once Tranny showed up, the rest of the team stopped hitting, even though he was hitting OK. Before he was acquired, all the hitters were playing WAY over their heads, then the cavalry came, and they all checked out. When Tranny went down to injury, all was lost, and we were eliminated, then Tranny came back and lit the world on fire.

      2011 just was not our year. Posey going down was too big of an obstacle for the Giants to overcome.

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    8. I agree with DrB that once in a while talking about the trade is maybe OK (that's my impression that it's not a hard taboo), but since I commented not too long ago, I will just wait until another time...perhaps.

      And so, let's close the book on it, for now. End of Story, today.

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    9. Heck, I just wanted to know who or what this TRANNY was that just showed up!

      BTW, SURKAMP to the WHITE SOX....In my minority opinion, could turn out to be a move Sabean regrets. We'll see...He obviously values PETIT, CORDIA and De PAULA higher than Surkamp and the Giants almost always know their pitching..

      SteveVA

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    10. It was a good trade. It desperately needed to happen and it showed that Sabes had the balls to go for it. The only thing that upsets me is how big a disappointment Gary Brown has been ever since. It wasn't all that crazy to think that Brown could have been competing for a starting spot in the OF this season based off his performance in SJ. He was a higher rated prospect than Wheeler or Crick and pretty much our biggest trade chip at the time. NY was asking for either him or Wheeler and Sabes made the right call based on how valuable everyone assumed Brown was. Anyone who sees that trade as a mistake is an idiot.

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    11. Sandy Alderson has said that he never gave the Giants a choice. It was always Wheeler or nobody. If they had the choice between giving up Brown or Wheeler, they traded the wrong guy, and I said it at the time. You can look it up. I don't believe they had the choice, though.

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    12. I believe the Giants could have pulled Surkamp back after the Pill deal went through, but they obviously chose not to. Gotta believe there was some reason his stock was down with the brass.

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  3. Pitchers like Crick are fun to watch because the hitters end up telling you everything you need to know about him. The respect a guy like Crick gets up and down the lineups he faces is evident when you see the amount of bats that stay on shoulders. Every team that faces him will apply the same strategy which is take take take and hope that he walks a bunch of guys! We saw this with Timmy and Cain when they came up and it is the ultimate respect hitters can give a pitcher. Crick's success will come down to him getting ahead of hitters and forcing them to swing early as opposed to pitching from behind in the count. Hitters are hoping to get to 2-0 and 3-1 counts so they can gear up for the fastball but if Crick can start them off with a strike on the corner and get to more 1-2 and 2-2 counts, he will rack up the K's like nobody's business.

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    1. Nice comment Pato. Watching his AFL games I thought the same thing.

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    2. Thank you Shankbone. We saw the same thing in that video, none of those hitters were eager to look foolish swinging through a fastball unless they knew they were getting one down the middle. I think we could realistically have the best staff in baseball again in 2015 if they can give him one more full season in the minors to develop. I still owe you 2 tix to a game btw.

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  4. What the people questioning Crick probably do not remember is that he started pitching full time in his senior year. So, throwing in missed time due to injury, he has less than three years of full time pitching. The Giants are almost literally creating a pitcher from scratch, giving him a few new things to learn each season, teaching him the Giants Way. So there will be ups and downs, but as long as he is advancing and improving, that is the main thing because he has stuff and heat that you just cannot teach, and the Giants are teaching him to harness it.

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    1. Crick's game is that much more impressive to me, for all the reasons you mentioned here. Kid wasn't even a full-time ball player until 17, and is blowing fastballs by some of the best prospects in the game at 21. Wow.

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