Cain, Bumgarner… Crick!

I had the pleasure of watching Kyle Crick on the tube for the first time last night. Sure, I tuned into a couple of his starts with San Jose on the computer this season, but the video quality of those minor league games really isn’t very good. As far as TV goes, I missed his outing this summer in the Future’s Game, and wasn’t able to catch him in the Fall Stars game last week either. So, when I found out he was starting on MLB Network last night, I knew I wasn’t missing it.

Crick took the mound at the home of the Giants’ Spring Training complex last night, with fellow Gigantes prospect Andrew Susac calling pitches for him behind the dish. It was Cricky’s fourth AFL start, but since before the Fall Stars Game (he’d made three relief appearances in that time), and his first three hadn’t gone so well. So I had tempered expectations going in, hoping that the young hurler could just control the strike zone and get some outs… He did, folks.

For those who missed it last night, allow me to recap Crick’s outing: Jared Mitchell (CHW #10 prospect); Eddie Rosario (Min #5); Yorman Rodriguez (Cin #15); Brandon Jacobs (CHW #7); Max Kepler (Min #8)… Grab. Some. Pine.

If there’s anything we know about professional sports and baseball in general, one performance can’t possibly define a player’s potential, good, bad, or otherwise… but it sure can help. Had Crick walked the bases loaded last night and been pulled in the second inning, we’d have said that he needs to learn to command his pitches, understanding that he still had some maturing to do as a pitcher. But we already knew those things about Crick, and one outing wasn’t going to diminish his prospect value. Something entirely different happened last night though, something that you should be very excited about. Crick took the hill opposite the top pitching prospect in Minnesota’s stacked organization – the towering Alex Meyer – and the two young studs put on a show.

Crick’s line for the night: 3 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 5 K… and those numbers don’t even begin to tell the whole story for the Giants’ number one prospect. The 6-foot-4, Texas-grown righty dominated a pretty stacked Glendale lineup, with basically just a fastball. From the very first batter, Crick popped Susac’s mitt to the tune of 94,95,96 and even a 98 mph heater. He threw it down the middle, he threw it on the corners, he elevated it above the hands… and some of the top prospects in baseball couldn’t touch it. He struck out the side in the first, and then two more in the second. For a kid known for his inability to control the strike zone, Crick had only one 3-ball count on the night – the final hitter in the 3rd inning, to which he induced a chopper to 2B to finish his outing. One of the few changeups he threw all night was knocked back up the middle by Colin Moran in the first… that was the only blemish in an otherwise perfect performance for the Giants’ 2011 supplemental first round pick. This was literally a group of future MLB hitters getting blown away by nothing but high ched from a future MLB pitcher. Awesome stuff in a coming out party for Crick.

This post is certainly about Crick, but Meyer was just as dominant on the other side, taking a no-hitter into the 6th inning, striking out Susac twice in the process. Quite an impressive night from a couple of promising pitchers.

Crick was ranked #42 on MLB.com’s midseason top 100 prospects list this summer, but I’d have to think last night’s performance will have Johnathan Mayo and his posse considering a move into the top 25 for Crick next spring… that’s how good last night’s outing was. Yes, the same issues about control and developing offspeed pitches remain, but there’s no doubt to me that Crick’s got a promising MLB career ahead of him. This kid is the reason the Giants felt comfortable trading Zack Wheeler a couple years ago, and I think he’ll help all the fans who are still (inexcusably) bitter forget about that trade in a couple years. Like most 20 year-old power pitchers, he just needs time. If he stays healthy, I have to believe he’ll be a part of the 2015 rotation, and I’d say there’s even a slight chance we see him in a Giants’ uniform late next season… they did it with Madison Bumgarner in 2009.

One final thought here. The Crick comparisons to Matt Cain are well documented, and certainly have some backing. The similarities between the two really are uncanny. Right-handed, Southern country boys, similar body builds, easy deliveries, power pitcher profiles, prep first round picks… Crick is a carbon copy of Cain, and will hopefully find similar success at the big league level. But watch the video of Crick’s interview from last night. Not only does he resemble Cain, but he’s got the same dry, gruff personality of another pretty good Southern boy, Bumgarner. His response to the compliments about his start killed me. “Yeah, thank you.” And the slightest of smirks to go along with it. Seriously, if that interview doesn’t make you chuckle a little bit, I don’t know what will. The Giants know their pitching, and will have a great opportunity to draft another electric arm next summer… I have a sneaky hunch they will.

So… Cain, Bumgarner, and now Kyle Crick. It won’t be much longer, folks. It won’t be much longer.

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11 thoughts on “Cain, Bumgarner… Crick!”

  1. Thanks for posting this as well as the videos. Yeah, if that doesn’t get a Giants fan’s juices flowing, I don’t know what would. I am very excited to have him in the organization. Yes, even his facial features look like Cainer! A slightly bigger version of Matt Cain? Yeah, I’ll take it!

    1. Thanks for reading Dr B. You’re the only loyal commenter on this blog, and I appreciate it. Crick blew me away the other night… Completely exceeded my expectations. Maybe it’s ignorant to say this, but that performance was all I needed to see. I have full confidence that he’ll improve his control with time, as well as develop his slider/change. If he can stay healthy, he’s got a bright future.

      1. Hey, you know what? Good scouts only need to see a pitcher for 1 inning or a batter for 1 AB to make a call. You see what shows up on those videos and you know that he’s a special talent. It’s just a matter of development and staying healthy.

    1. Walter, thanks for the comment! Sanchez wasn’t in the minors for very long, but I would say Crick’s numbers so far look quite a bit better than Sanchez did in his first couple seasons… Now Sanchez skipped San Jose completely, but Crick will be almost two full years younger at Richmond than Sanchez was.

      I see where you’re coming from with the high strikeouts, high walk rate comparisons… but I think the Giants are hoping Crick will give them much more than a Jonathan Sanchez-type career in the majors.

    2. There is a big difference in how they look from a scouting perspective too. Crick is big, strong, durable. Sanchez was not small, but he had skinny arms and always looked a bit fragile. Sanchez could hit 95 MPH on occasion. Crick SITS at 95 and can keep it up all night.

      When you evaluate them in person, there really is no comparison.

      1. Numbers only mean something in context. What’s the point in taking numbers of some random other pitcher and making the comp if you know that from a scouting perspective they are not similar? You can take any prospect, no matter how good they are and if you look long enough you can find some other prospect who put up similar numbers at some point who failed. Without the context it doesn’t mean a thing! It just seems a bit disingenuous to me.

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