On Tuesday, Kyle Crick pitched two more scoreless innings out of the Scottsdale Scorpions bullpen against Peoria. A day earlier, he opened up about his dominant 2013 season with Class A San Jose, and spoke of his experiences thus far in the Arizona Fall League.
Oh, and there’s more video of Crick pounding the mitt. What’s new?
Crick used out of bullpen for second consecutive game
Because team officials are preparing to showcase the young right-hander in the upcoming “Fall-Stars” game, Crick was used sparingly out of the bullpen over the past three games, throwing a perfect inning on Saturday and pitching two more scoreless frames Tuesday against Peoria.
Crick, obviously, is a starting pitcher, as he’s shown in his first three professional seasons, and will surely return to a starting slot after November 2. But Crick says despite the new territory, he’s already getting used to the temporary role.
“It’s been awhile,” Crick said. “I came out of the pen in the Futures Game and that had been the first time since I signed.
“It’s definitely different, you don’t have near as much time to get ready and do your normal routine … but it’s been a quick transition. Stan [Kyles] the pitching coach is pretty good about letting me know when I’m going to pitch so for the most part, I have the idea.”
In two relief appearances, Crick has not allowed a hit or an earned run, while walking one and striking out two in three innings.
Development of secondary pitches steadily progressing
Over the course of a generally fantastic 2013 season, cut short on the beginning half because of a nagging oblique injury, Crick showed over-the-top dominance at times. He struck out double-digit batters five times in 14 starts, including a 10-strikeout performance in just four innings on June 21 at Stockton in his first start back from the injury. A total of 150 right-handed hitters came to bat against Crick this year. Forty-two percent of them walked back to the dugout with a strikeout to their name.
Known early on for his fastball-slider combo, Crick says a different pitch was crucial in his continued success in the later months, including a seven-inning, eight-strikeout performance in the first round of the California League playoffs against Visalia.
“I’d say this year, the most effective pitch I had was my changeup, and that just came about in the last year,” Crick said. “I’d never had one before and I just started using it towards the end of the season in San Jose and it was working out for me.
“I was getting a lot of ground balls with it and I was going longer in the games because of it because the pitch count was down,” he said.
Crick averaged 4.1 innings per outing in his first seven games, and improved by averaging 5.2 frames in his last seven games. This could partly be due to an increasing confidence and pitch-count allotment San Jose staff were granting Crick as he progressed through the season. However, the point remains the same, especially when you learn that Crick’s ground ball outs doubled in his last seven games.
This isn’t to take away from Crick’s fastball-slider combination, or to say that it has diminished. The four-seam still touched 97 in Arizona and sat comfortably between 93 and 95. It is encouraging to hear, though, that a third and even a fourth pitch are not only in the works, but are becoming legitimate options.
“I do throw a curveball and a slider, but I’d say for the most part I throw the slider,” he said. “But the curveball is always in the back pocket just to get over the plate or to show them a different look and a different speed.”
With command being his most problematic area, it’s key to point out that throughout 2013, hitters averaged .155 off Crick with runners on base and .240 with the bases empty. So even when Crick was struggling to find the strike zone, he beared down and got important outs to keep his ERA at 1.57 over 68.2 innings.
Still, Crick averaged more than one walk every other inning, and that’s obviously something he’s constantly looking to eliminate.
“I think it’s just focusing on every pitch,” he said. “I don’t think it’s a mechanical flaw or anything. I think it’s just bearing down and focusing on the mitt, hitting spots and throwing everything for strikes. Not just the slider and the fastball but the changeup and the curve, too.
“Everything will compliment and work off each other if that happens.”
Crick enjoying making new friends in month-long league
Paired with prospects from four other major-league teams while in Arizona, Crick says most people were shy at first. But more than halfway through the short season, he says the Scottsdale club has really bonded.
“Making new friends here has been the biggest thing,” he said. “Our team is probably the best group of guys out here. It’s awesome.”
San Francisco catching prospect Andrew Susac is not a new friend, but definitely someone from whose presence Crick benefits.
“I think it’s refreshing to have Susac here because he’s our catcher and he’s got a chance to be working with us for a long time,” Crick said.
Crick is likely to start, or at least see some innings, at November 2nd’s “Fall-Stars” game in Surprise before making two final starts with Scottsdale as the league concludes November 14.