Get to Know Giants’ Prospect Kyle Crick


Being rated as an organization’s top prospect is an honor. It shows that the baseball world thinks highly of a player and expects big things from him.

Kyle Crick entered both the 2013 and 2014 seasons as the San Francisco Giants’ number one prospect. He was also rated the 32nd best prospect in baseball by, 33rd best by Baseball America, and 38th best by Baseball Prospectus. To say that big things are expected of Crick would be an understatement.

The Giants drafted 18 year-old Crick in the first round of the 2011 Amateur Draft straight out of high school. At 6’4” and weighing in at 220 pounds, he fits the bill of pitchers built like linebackers that the Giants are becoming accustomed to. Crick, Matt Cain (6’3”, 230 pounds) and Madison Bumgarner (6’5”, 235 pounds) all look like they should be blitzing quarterbacks with the San Francisco 49ers.

Nov 2, 2013; Surprise, AZ, USA; San Francisco Giants pitcher Kyle Crick against the West during the Fall Stars Game at Surprise Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

But instead of bringing heat on the blitz, Crick would throw heat with his fastballs. He was immediately sent to the Rookie League Arizona Giants, where he struggled significantly. In just seven games, he pitched to the tune of a 6.43 ERA, 2.429 WHIP and issued eight walks in seven innings. The lack of control would be a common theme for Crick’s entire minor league career.

The next season, Crick would move to the Single-A Augusta Green Jackets, where he would pitch in 23 games, including 22 starts. He cut his ERA way down to 2.51, and WHIP down to 1.275. In 111.1 innings, he struck out 128 batters and surrendered just 75 hits, but he also walked 67 opponents. Take into consideration that if Crick cut his walks in half, his WHIP for the season would be .974.

Crick’s next stop would be the High-A San Jose Giants, where he would continue his dominance. In 14 games, all starts, he went 3-1 with a sparkling 1.57 ERA, 1.267 WHIP and 95 strikeouts in 68.2 innings. While he gave up only 48 hits, he issued 39 free passes for a 1.267 WHIP. He also missed some time early in the year with an oblique injury, but he pitched very well after returning in June.

He was included in the 2013 MLB All-Star Futures Game, and he pitched for Team USA. He entered the game in the ninth inning with an opportunity for a save, but he retired just one batter and walked two. He was relieved and ended up with only a hold for his efforts.

2014 was Crick’s biggest test, as he moved up to the Double-A Richmond Flying Squirrels. In 22 starts, he went 6-7 with a 3.79 ERA and 1.539 WHIP, both of which are a little higher than desired for a top prospect. He was again hurt by his lack of command, as he walked 61 guys in just 90.1 innings. His strikeouts would also remain high, as he whiffed 111 opposing batters.

There’s not a doubt in anyone’s mind that Crick has the stuff to be a top-of-the-line starting pitcher in the Major Leagues. So far in his four-year minor league career, he has allowed just 6.8 hits per nine innings, and he strikes out 11.1 opponents per nine. But walks are still his biggest issue, as he allows 5.7 free passes per nine.

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Crick’s fastball sits in the mid 90’s and has been known to reach 98 occasionally. His slider is his best secondary pitch, as it seems like a legitimate swing-and-miss pitch with hard bite. Both his changeup and curveball are considered works in progress and need more time to develop before Crick can be considered an actual four-pitch pitcher.

Mechanically, it is easy to see why Crick struggles with his control. His windup is very simple and repeatable, but delivering the pitch is a different story. He short-arms the throw, somewhat similar to Yusmeiro Peit. His arm motion is quick as a hiccup, but Crick struggles to find a consistent arm slot and release point. That inconsistency leads to a lot of fastballs way off the plate.

Crick has spent basically his entire career as a starter, and he has the raw stuff to be a starter. If he can learn to harness that stuff, he will be a force to be reckoned with in the big leagues. If he can’t reign himself in, the bullpen seems a likely destination, and a lot of scouts seem to think that’s where Crick will end up.

Giants’ pitching coach Dave Righetti has become known as a master of helping guys live up to their full potential. Santiago Casilla had control problems similar to Crick before joining the Giants. Since then, Casilla has significantly cut down on his walks and has become one of the best relievers in baseball.

Crick may just need the full “Righetti treatment” to become the pitcher that a lot of people think he can be. At only 21 years old (will be 22 on November 30th), there is still plenty of time for the young flamethrower to develop.