Kyle Crick

Those who’ve watched Kyle Crick the most still think he’s the Giants’ top prospect

Kyle Crick Andrew Susac

Here’s the thing about being the top prospect — one doesn’t hold the title for several years. The prospect-rankers get antsy, other players come along, and those who don’t show rapid improvement and progress through the system at a rapid rate become known as “disappointments” or even “busts.”

We aren’t at that point yet with Kyle Crick, but the bases on balls have people wondering.

crick

Baseball America
1. Andrew Susac, C
2. Tyler Beede, RHP
3. Kyle Crick, RHP
4. Keury Mella, RHP
5. Clayton Blackburn, RHP
6. Adalberto Mejia, LHP
7. Ty Blach, LHP
8. Hunter Strickland, RHP
9. Matt Duffy, SS
10. Christian Arroyo, 2B/SS

Baseball Prospectus
1. Adalberto Mejia, LHP
2. Kyle Crick, RHP
3. Andrew Susac, C
4. Tyler Beede, RHP
5. Keury Mella, RHP
6. Christian Arroyo, 2B/SS
7. Steven Okert, LHP
8. Hunter Strickland, RHP
9. Clayton Blackburn, RHP
10. Ty Blach, LHP

Minor League Ball
1. Andrew Susac, C
2. Kyle Crick, RHP
3. Keury Mella, RHP
4. Tyler Beede, RHP
5. Clayton Blackburn, RHP
6. Christian Arroyo, 2B/SS
7. Mac Williamson, OF
8. Ty Blach, LHP
9. Adalberto Mejia, LHP
10. Steven Okert, LHP

Keith Law (ESPN Insider)
1. Andrew Susac, C
2. Keury Mella, RHP
3. Kyle Crick, RHP
4. Clayton Blackburn, RHP
5. Tyler Beede, RHP
6. Adalberto Mejia, LHP
7. Mac Williamson, RF
8. Ty Blach, RHP
9. Christian Arroyo, 2B
10. Michael Santos, RHP

Alright, it’s not like Crick has tumbled to the point of not being forgotten. He’s still a consensus top-three prospect in the Giants’ system. But those who’ve watched Crick the most still believe he’s the organization’s No. 1 prospect, and that’s probably why you didn’t see the Giants trade for Ben Zobrist, either last July or after the 2014 season. (Along with an understandable hesitancy to deal Andrew Susac.)

In an interview with Ray Woodson, Giants Director of Player Development Shane Turner, laughed off the idea that Crick hasn’t met expectations.

It’s funny to me because most people, when they ask me about Crick, they’re disappointed. I’m not disappointed. He was young, and he played a lot of football in high school and pitching is really pretty new to him. But for me, looking at his fastball, when you look at the swing-and-miss ratio, it tells you this is a kid that once he really, really hones his mechanics, and he’s around the plate more, people are going to chase and people are going to swing and miss. And he’s got a chance to be a dominant starter. And a guy like that, with that kind of arm, it might be one month in the next year and you’re going to go, ‘Holy cow.’

Two San Jose Giants employees — play-by-play announcer Joe Ritzo and media relations coordinator Ben Taylor — listed Crick at the top of their respective top-10 lists.

Joe Ritzo’s Top 10
1. Kyle Crick, RHP
2. Tyler Beede, RHP
3. Andrew Susac, C
4. Christian Arroyo, 2B/SS
5. Adalberto Mejia, LHP
6. Mac Williamson, OF
7. Clayton Blackburn, RHP
8. Daniel Carbonell, OF
9. Keury Mella, RHP
10. Hunter Strickland, RHP

Ben Taylor’s Top 10
1. Kyle Crick, RHP
2. Andrew Susac, C
3. Keury Mella, RHP
4. Clayton Blackburn, RHP
5. Tyler Beede, RHP
6. Christian Arroyo, 2B/SS
7. Ty Blach, LHP
8. Mac Williamson, OF
9. Adalberto Mejia, LHP
10. Hunter Strickland, RHP

Ritzo explained in a podcast with Taylor why he listed Crick No. 1 for the third straight year.

There are concerns for me, and I’m sure for everyone in the player development side of things in the organization. You’re still worried about those walk rates for Kyle Crick, and I think you can make an argument that maybe he shouldn’t be number one because those walk rates are still pretty high. He’s averaging almost six walks per nine innings for his career and he had some major issues early in this season last year, while pitching Double-A, going deep into ballgames. If he could get through five innings, that was a big deal for Kyle Crick last April and May.

But kind of like what happened in 2013 in San Jose, you get to the second half of the season and it seems like he starts to really settle in. And of course we didn’t get a chance to watch any of Kyle Crick last year because he was in Double-A, we’re just looking at the numbers. But what he did here in the California League in that 2013 season is still ingrained in my mind.

A true power pitcher in every sense of the word. You look at a guy in Kyle Crick and I think he projects, maybe not a No. 1 starter in a major league rotation, but a No. 2 starter for sure. A fastball, 92 to 98 on a good day. I think the slider is a plus pitch. The changeup was really coming along late. And I look at what he was did in the second half of last season in Richmond, he was starting to go deeper into ballgames.

He just turned 22. So he did all of this as a 21-year-old in Double-A. He’s still way ahead of the curve in my opinion. The overall ERA was pretty solid, 3.79. And I love that strikeout rate. That’s a huge thing you’re looking at with these starting pitchers. These young starting pitchers in the minor leagues, are they missing bats? Do they have that electric stuff? Because that’s the kind of thing that will play up at the big league level. With Kyle Crick, he just has to refine his game to eventually realize that potential. But 111 strikeouts in 90 innings this year in Double-A. That’s phenomenal. Eastern League hitters only hit about .230 against him.

It seems like anyone who’s seen Crick in person is more inclined to trust he’ll figure out a way to stop walking guys and become an above-average major league starter. That’s due to a combination of build, age and K-rate. But mostly age.

kyle crick

I’ve seen the kid all of two-thirds of an inning at a Giants vs. Futures split-squad game last March, when Crick started against … Madison Bumgarner. He gave up just one hit, but he walked four, threw two wild pitches and gave up five earned runs. (Also, and this has nothing to do with Crick, but I liked what I saw during that futures game from Christian Arroyo.) Ritzo’s list probably comes the closest to matching mine, and I’d obviously side with Ritzo because he calls minor league games for a living.

I’m going to assume Minor League Ball’s John Sickels has seen him for more than two-thirds of an inning, too. Here’s what he wrote about the Giants’ prospect he ranked second, behind Andrew Susac:

I have really spent a lot of time on this one. My logical, sober analysis tells me that Crick needs to be a Grade B due to his command issues, but my gut instinct says to go with a Grade B+, which is still a half-step down from the A- I gave him last year. I remain enamored of his strikeout rates and the difficulty hitters have driving his stuff, but yeah, the walks need to come down and there’s a decent chance he winds up in relief. But. . .something holds me back from being quite as skeptical as some analysts have become. Instinct still says he figures it out ultimately.

Buster Posey already has two young clones in Joe Panik and Susac. If he can do a better job finding the strike zone in his age-22 season, Matt Cain’s “Mini Me” might help the Giants sooner than some think.

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