With the exception of 2014, Kyle Crick has dominated the competition at every level since being drafted by the Giants with the 49th pick in the 2011 MLB draft. Fortunately, that sovereignty over his peers is back at a very important stage in his development. Through five starts with the Richmond Flying Squirrels this season, his ERA sits at 1.64 and he has struck out 11.5 batters per nine innings. Perhaps most exciting is that he is doing this against many of the same Double-A hitters that gave him issues last year.
His 6’4″ frame delivers a powerful fastball that can reach into the upper-90s. It’s complemented by a plus slider and a developing changeup that will need to improve if he wants to continue accelerating through the Giants’ system. His build and stuff has garnered comparisons to a young Matt Cain, but as with many developing power pitchers, there is one question mark regarding his ability to succeed at the highest level: command.
With those big strikeout numbers come big walk totals—13 in 22 innings. That comes out at a BB9 rate of 5.3, which is right in line with what it’s always been in his professional career (5.7). At 22 years of age, that’s not an unusual number, but those location issues won’t play well in the Majors. At present, he can get away with them due to an incredible 6.1 hits per nine to go along with all the whiffs, but big leaguers won’t be so susceptible to pitches off the plate.
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Still, Crick’s current opposition is clearly unable to figure him out, meaning he is no doubt headed for some type of promotion before the season is up. However, due to an oblique injury in 2013, as well as high pitch-count totals from excess walks and strikeouts, his workload is not where it needs to be to start his MLB service time. Crick’s highest annual total is only 111.1, and that was all the way back in 2012 when he was in Single-A. His totals this season have followed suit, as he has yet to work more than 5.1 innings in a single game.
If Crick can continue to produce the bottom-line results then I would expect him to be a September call-up where he will likely work out of the bullpen. Many scouts and analysts see the ‘pen as being his eventual path to the bigs, and if his command continues to falter, then I can’t say I disagree. His pure stuff will force his way onto the Giants’ roster at some point, but what role that’s in will depend on his ability to limit the free passes.
For now, the Giants’ top prospect is a feared pitcher in Double-A and as exciting as anyone to watch in the organization.