While perusing the Royals’ organizational chart the other day, I realized that it’s been quite some time since I’ve heard anything about Aaron Crow. The right-hander, you’ll recall, was the ninth overall pick by the Washington Nationals during the 2008 draft.
Stepping back into 2008 again, the Top 2 pitchers in the draft that year were Crow and Brian Matusz of the University of San Diego. Here is what Baseball American said about Crow before the ’08 amateur draft:
In three years, Crow has gone from an undrafted high school senior to the best righthander in the 2008 draft, thanks largely to the best fastball package available. Other pitchers may throw harder, but no one can match the combination of Crow’s velocity (92-96 mph with a peak of 98), hard sink, command and ability to maintain his fastball… Some teams wonder if his mechanics and size (generously listed at 6-foot-3 and 195 pounds) might make him more of a closer than a front-line starter. Crow led the Cape Cod League with a 0.67 ERA last summer and was the No. 1 prospect in the league.
And here is a little something on Matusz:
Like David Price, the No. 1 pick last year, Matusz is tall and lanky at 6-foot-5 and 200 pounds, and scouts have history with him. He didn’t sign with the Angels in 2005 as a fourth-round pick out of an Arizona high school, and he starred for Team USA last summer, after ranking second (behind Price) in the nation in strikeouts… Matusz profiles as a middle of the rotation starter at worst, and if he improves his fastball and mechanics, he can become a staff ace.
There was a lot of debate over who was the better pick but it appears that Baltimore made the smart decision to take the more advanced left-hander. While Crow is struggling in double-A, Matusz is holding his own at the MLB level and has 15 MLB starts under his belt with a career xFIP of 4.58.
Unable to come to terms with Washington in ’08, Crow re-entered the draft in ’09 and went 12th overall to the Royals. He didn’t sign until late in the year so the former University of Missouri star officially began his pro career in April, 2010.
In the first start of his career, Crow allowed just one unearned run in 4.2 innings. His subsequent double-A starts have been inconsistent. His best stretch came in two games on April 29 and May 4 when he allowed just five runs on 12 hits in 15.0 innings. He walked three and struck out nine. In his last start against Tulsa (Colorado) on May 9, Crow was touched up for seven runs on seven hits and four walks in 5.0 runs. He did not strike out a batter.
Overall, he’s allowed 43 hits in 41.2 innings. Crow has given up 17 walks with just 21 strikeouts. Despite an excellent ground-ball rate of 70%, Crow has given up six homers (1.20 HR/9). If he keeps up that ground-ball rate, he should have some success, but he’s not going to reach his ceiling of a No. 1 or 2 starter with a sub-5.00 strikeout rate. It’s still early to get too worried, but flashes of Luke Hochevar are dancing in my head; one under-performing former No. 1 draft pick in enough for the Royals organization.
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