Originally posted on Fangraphs  |  Last updated 1/9/13
Kyle Crick enters 2013 as the top prospect in the San Francisco Giants organization. Having seen his final start of the 2012 season, I can attest to his having both the raw stuff and durable frame to eat innings at the Major League level. On a night where I saw him bad, Crick’s arsenal was awfully good. Seeing a great prospect on an off night presents an opportunity to discuss both Kyle Crick, and the value of a single look in context. Video after the jump When I started writing first-hand reports late in 2008, information was hard to find and fawned over. The rush to be first to post on a Single-A standout didn’t exist as few people concerned themselves with players so far from the Major Leagues. Much has changed in four seasons. As more writers turn in recorders for radar guns, the availability of first-hand prospect information has led to more mainstream appeal. Instead of being asked if I’ve seen a player at all, I’m being asked how many looks like Prospect writers have become road warriors imitating the life of the professional scout. In most cases, nothing could be further from the truth. As I write about about Kyle Crick, it’s as a source, not the source. It’s an important distinction. More often than not, I find myself at the park comparing single looks — especially of pitchers — with scouts. Discussing prospects is the equivalent of collecting data points. Information gleaned helps form an impression of a prospect. In this instance, Kyle Crick. On the mound, Crick’s 6-foot-4, 220 pound frame screams 200-inning workhorse. With a high leg kick, long stride and the ability to create downward plane, Crick’s mechanics were picturesque at times. However, his inconsistency was on display as well as Crick’s stride shortened, causing him to land awkwardly on a number of pitches. Should repetition and coaching allow Crick to iron out the flaws, the potential exists for him to have average command. Marked improvement needs to come quickly. A 5.42 BB/9 may fly in Augusta, a park known for suppressing home runs, but won’t in San Jose. At 91-93 mph, touching 94, Crick’s fastball fell short of electric. At times, noticeable effort was present and peak velocities were at the letters and above. When up in the zone, Crick’s fastball flattened considerably. At the knees, the pitch featured a touch of late tail which was promising. Consistency. Refinement. Rinse. Repeat. Multiple contacts were quick to mention seeing Crick sit 93-95 mph, touching 97 during the summer. With the additional data, one is able to connect the dots and conclude he was pitching on fumes in his final start. Crick’s primary breaking pitch was a 76-81 mph curveball. He showed confidence in the pitch by doubling up against opposing hitters. The pitch featured sharp, quick break and improved as Crick tired. At times, it was difficult to discern from his slider due to an inconsistent release point. When Crick did not release the pitch out front of his body, it became more of a “slurve” — Still effective, but not ideal. At 82-83 mph, Crick’s slider was a pitch he had a tendency to guide instead of throw. It featured hard, downward break, but I did not see enough of them to really work a strong pitch profile. In discussing Crick’s slider with contacts, they reported 85-88 mph readings when in top form. One even called it a “potential wipe out offering”. Crick didn’t throw a changeup in my time behind home plate. Kyle Crick is the best Giants prospect I’ve scouted since Zack Wheeler. At the same stage in development, Crick has a more complete arsenal, although Wheeler’s fastball/curveball combo was a better two-pitch mix. Crick has the potential to reach the upper echelon of pitching prospects by this time next year. Command and consistency are the two obstacles in his way. As for the value of a single look, it’s important to understand the difference between writing from the perspective of a single scout, or higher level executive responsible for pulling together a profile from a number of individual reports. Scouts write reports from single looks frequently and attend five game sets to see each starter once. Instead of holding back this information, I prefer to present it as they would. I trust readers to do their due diligence, combine my work with other reports and build their own scouting profile.
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