Kyle Crick, the top arm in the Giants’ stable of minor league pitchers tossed another gem last night, helping San Jose even its playoff series against Visalia with a 3-hit effort in 7 innings. How’s the control, you ask? Not a walk to speak of, and 8 K’s in a 2-0 win for the High-A Giants. Jose Casilla and Derek Law helped him finish the job with a pair of scoreless innings, and a San Francisco affiliate not in the Arizona Rookie League finally pulled a playoff W (DSL, Augusta, and Salem-Keizer were all swept in their postseason series’).
The real story here is Crick, who’s been an absolute horse since the All-Star break. Considering the oblique injury that cost him almost all of the season’s first half, his second-half numbers are really all we have to go off of this year, anyway. In those final 11 starts (regular season), Cricky logged a 1.66 ERA in 59 IP. He allowed only 38 hits, K’d 83 and walked 30. His record during that stretch: 3-0. I hardly mention wins and losses on this blog – and to be honest I rarely pay them much attention at any level of baseball anymore – but the fact that Crick only lost one time in his 14 starts this season is pretty impressive. Simply put, the guy gives his team a chance to win. Every. Time. Out.
The knock on Crick is control. A career BB/9 of 5.5 will earn you that knock. But personally, I think I’ve finally reached the point where the good (career 11.1 K/9, 6.4 H/9, 2.31 ERA) outweighs the bad. Sure, you’d like to see him command the zone a little better and be more efficient with his pitch count. But the kid is 20 years-old, and is blowing his fastball past guys who are 2, 3, sometimes 4 years older. Catching a few of his starts on the net made me a believer. Simply overpowering, filthy stuff.
If you combine Crick’s last start of the regular season with his postseason gem last night, here’s what you get: 14 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 18 K. Yep, that’s domination boys and girls, and I don’t remember a starting pitcher in the last 5 years who’s been as impressive in San Jose. Madison Bumgarner only made a handful of starts at High-A before the Giants bumped him to AA in 2009. By the next season, he was in the bigs. Had Crick not suffered the injury in April, he may be have gotten the bump too. Or, maybe another 10 starts would have tired his arm out. Could he have sustained the miniscule ERA over 25 starts? Don’t know. He may or may not get another postseason start this year, but we still get to follow him a little longer in the Arizona Fall League, which should be a good indicator of how his stuff matches up against some very good hitters.
For now, the Giants may just have one of the best right-handed hurlers that nobody is talking about.