San Francisco Giants: Kyle Crick is Putting Himself Back on the Radar

Feb 20, 2017; Scottsdale, AZ, USA; San Francisco Giants pitcher Kyle Crick poses for a portrait during photo day at Scottsdale Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 20, 2017; Scottsdale, AZ, USA; San Francisco Giants pitcher Kyle Crick poses for a portrait during photo day at Scottsdale Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

Once one of the best prospects in baseball, San Francisco Giants’ farmhand Kyle Crick is putting himself back on the radar in Triple-A.

There was a time not too long ago, just a few short years in the past, that Kyle Crick was the hot commodity in the San Francisco Giants’ farm system. The 2011 first-round draft pick (49th overall) from Sherman High School in Texas quickly climbed the prospects ranks, and before long, he was the team’s top overall prospect.

2013 was the breakout year for Crick in High-A with the San Jose Giants. In 14 starts, Crick pitched to a 1.57 ERA while striking out 12.7 batters per nine innings, and prospect rankings took notice. He was rated as high as the 32nd-best prospect in baseball by, and it seemed just a matter of time until he took that dominance to San Francisco.

That’s when things went sideways. Crick went to Double-A to play for the Richmond Flying Squirrels in the 2014 season, and those control issues that were always present but not the main focus suddenly became the main focus. In 90 innings with Richmond, he still posted a highly-respectable 3.80 ERA, but he issued 61 walks and allowed seven home runs while his strikeouts dropped from 13.8 in 2013 to 11.1 (still a very nice total) in 2014.

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He returned to the Flying Squirrels in 2015 in hopes of moving past his issues, but things just got worse instead. He pitched mainly out of the bullpen, but still issues more than a walk per inning (66 walks in 63 innings). Even while his ERA remained a solid 3.29, his WHIP jumped to 1.794.

Crick was back in Virginia in 2016, and while his walks dropped, it seemed everything else got worse. He walked 67 in 109 innings, but gave up 110 hits and struck out only 7.1 per nine innings, by far the lowest total of his minor league career.

It looked like that door to the major leagues had been shut and locked with the key thrown away, but 2017 has seen a resurgence in Crick’s stock. He is back at that door and his knocks are getting louder with every passing appearance with Sacramento, and it has to be getting more and more tempting for the Giants to open that door and invite Crick in for his first cup of coffee.

It all started for Crick, who is no longer even a top-30 prospect for the Giants (, in Spring Training. With the big league squad, Crick made six appearances and made the most of each and every one. In 8.2 innings, Crick allowed just one run while holding his opponents to a .200 average. His three walks were manageable, and his strikeouts took a sharp tick upward, as he punched out nine. His stellar performance in the Cactus League prompted San Francisco to move him up to Triple-A, where he has been able to keep the momentum going.

Serving strictly as a reliever for the River Cats, Crick has become one of the team’s most reliable options out of the bullpen. In 14 games and 17.2 innings, Crick owns a 3.57 ERA and .231 opponent average while saving four ballgames. His strikeouts have risen back to more normal levels (23 Ks, 11.7 per nine innings), and while his walk rate is still a bit higher than what would normally be desired, eight walks and 4.1 per nine innings is extremely promising for a pitcher that had never issues under five walks per nine innings over a full season.

Crick is doing all this while throwing high-velocity fastballs. In his appearance on Saturday, during which he threw 1.1 innings for a save, he hit 97 with his heater on multiple occasions while striking out the first batter he faced on five pitches. He did allow a solo home run, his first of the year, in that outing, but recovered to strike out the side in the ninth to hold the lead.

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Crick, still just 24 years old, is back on the radar and is proving his mettle. With a big league club still struggling for consistency on the front-end of the bullpen, it’s not crazy to think that Crick could make his major league debut at some point in the very near future. With the kind of stuff that he features and a newfound confidence in the strike zone, Crick could make a big impact coming out of the bullpen. And already having a spot on the 40-man roster only works in his favor.