Well, it’s been almost a month since we started this project, and we’re finally down to #1. If you’ve been following along, I want to thank you for your support, and welcome any feedback or insight you may have about any of these players. This is by far the most comprehensive list I’ve ever put together. I’ve learned so much about the Giants’ farm system during the process, as I hope you have too. Now that it’s complete, I already feel like there are changes to be made, players I missed, etc, so I’m hoping to put together another list (maybe 50 this time) at the end of the season. Until then, you can be sure there will be plenty more posts on the prospect front, including updates on many of the guys we’ve covered here, and maybe some profiles of some lesser known players in the system. As always, thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoyed this series!
#1. Kyle Crick – RHP, 20 yo, Hi-A: Surprise! Ok, so there really wasn’t a lot of suspense around this pick, and there shouldn’t be. Kyle Crick is the bell cow of the farm, and you’ll find him ranked #1 on probably 99% of Giants’ prospect lists. Crick is a big, power righty who hails from Texas. He’s got a classic pitcher’s frame at 6’4, 220 lbs, and owns an elite fastball that he can run up to 98 mph. He’s the most promising pitching prospect the Giants have had since Zack Wheeler left the system.
The Giants drafted Crick with their 1st round “sandwich” pick in 2011 out of Sherman (TX) High School and assigned him to rookie ball in Arizona. He made only seven appearances that summer, but Sabean and co. knew what they had, and Crick began 2012 in Lo-A Augusta alongside fellow 2011 high school draftee Clayton Blackburn. Neither disappointed. In 23 games (22 starts), Crick dominated the SALLY (South Atlantic League), posting a 2.51 ERA and 128 K in 111.1 IP, good for a 10.3 K/9. However, he also walked a hefty 67 batters (5.4 BB/9) and tossed 13 wild pitches.
Crick’s performance in Augusta earned the raw 20 year-old a spot at the top of a stacked rotation this year in San Jose, as well as a #66 ranking on Baseball America’s preseason top 100. If he could continue to pump his fastball by hitters and cut down his walks, many felt that he could begin to move quickly up the ladder, much like Matt Cain did as a top prospect in 2004. With Crick’s electric stuff, it certainly wasn’t out of the question. Crick strained his oblique in only his third start of the 2013 season, however, and missed two months. He returned to San Jose’s rotation exactly one month ago, and in five starts since the injury, his numbers have been absolutely mind-boggling. In 25 IP, he’s allowed only 3 ER, good for a 1.07 ERA. He’s struck out 38 hitters, including 10 on two separate occasions. While his mid-90’s fastball and sharp breaking ball have been devastating on Cal League hitters to the tune of a 13.0 K/9, he still hasn’t overcome his signature wildness, as he’s surrendered 10 walks over his last 10 innings, and owns a staggering BB/9 of 6.2 on the year. For the season, he’s amassed a razor-thin 1.04 ERA with 50 K and 24 BB in 34 IP.
Crick’s performance over the past month has certainly earned him his share of accolades, including a trip to the Future’s Game in New York and a spot on the BA mid-season Top 50. It’s clear that most of the hitters at Hi-A cannot handle his fastball, but his high walk rates are still a little alarming. Luckily, he’s got two months to prove he can command the strike zone better. He’s young for the level, and the Giants don’t need to rush him. What amazes me about Crick is his ability to keep runs off the board, despite the high number of base runners he allows. For a kid his age who doesn’t always know where the ball is going when it leaves his hand, that’s pretty impressive. Without the walks, he’s been pretty much unhittable this season. If he can continue to miss bats, I’d have to think we’ll see him in Richmond next year. If you’ve watched him pitch at all, it’s uncanny how much he resembles Matt Cain. Both are built very similarly, both have compact, easily repeatable deliveries, and both are fastball/slider power pitchers. Can you see why the Giants are so excited about this kid yet?