Q&A: Kyle Crick, San Francisco Giants Pitching Prospect

Kyle Crick isn’t a nibbler. The 6-foot-4 right-hander’s approach is to attack hitters, and while his command isn’t where it should be, he’s going about things the right way. In 14 starts this year for high-A San Jose — an oblique injury kept him on the shelf for part of the season — he logged a 1.57 ERA and struck out 12.5 batters per nine innings.

Crick is a power pitcher. The 49th overall pick in the 2011 draft is also the top prospect in the San Francisco Giants organization. More refinement is needed, but it’s only a matter of time before he’s pitching at AT&T Park.

Crick — who celebrated his 21st birthday last week — finished the 2013 campaign in the Arizona Fall League with the Scottsdale Scorpions. He talked about his attack-dog mentality at the tail end of the AFL season.

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Crick on attacking the strike zone:
“My approach is to get ahead as fast as I can, and once I am ahead, stay ahead. I try to get them to swing at my pitches. I don’t want to give the hitters too much credit and just pick at corners. For me, it’s throw it over the plate, pound the zone, get ahead. From there, things take care of themselves.

“You have to trust your stuff. I think that for every pitcher to compete and succeed at a high level, he has to attack the zone. If you fall behind, you’re probably going to get hit around.”

On his fastball and working up in the zone:
“Usually, when you’re ahead of batters and they see a fastball out of your hand, up, it’s pretty tough for them to lay off. We were using the high fastball the other night [on a game televised by the MLB network] and it was working.

“I mostly throw four-seams. I’ll throw a two every now and then, in certain situations. It has a little sink to it, but I have a better feel for my four-seam right now, so I’m primarily going with that. I’m not really sure about the movement on my four-seam. It might move a little bit, but for me it’s more a matter of velocity and location.”

On velocity: “Is it important? I’d say yes and no. Spotting up is probably the biggest part of anybody’s game. Anybody can hit a 95-mph fastball if your location is bad.

“I’m usually [trying to throw hard] but every now and then I’ll lighten up. There’s definitely a BP coaster fastball I’ll use, maybe early in the count to try to get a ground ball out. But I pretty much stay at my normal speed.”

On his secondary pitches and feel: “I throw a curveball, a slider, and a changeup. I use pretty much everything in every game. It’s primarily fastballs and sliders, but I use all four pitches.

“I think I’ve changed pretty much everything since I signed. Grip-wise, and what I’m doing out front with my pitches… it’s all about feel now. It’s about getting a repetitious feel for a pitch, having it in the same spot every time.”

On his changeup: “I’d say my changeup has been the biggest adjustment this year. It’s been working for me. I finally got a grip for it, and I threw it a lot. I played catch every day with that grip and that helped me get a feel for it to where I can throw it for a strike, or for a ball when I need to.

“It’s a two-seam circle. The grip is something I kind of had to find for myself. Everybody I knew seemed to throw a four-seam changeup, but I didn’t have that great of a grip with it, so I went to the two-seam. I can throw that a little easier, and it has better movement, so I ran with it.”

On his slider and curveball: “I’d say my slider is more advanced right now. I can throw it for a strike when I need to. But my curveball is pretty close behind; I just have to get the right spin every time. Right now they have me throwing both pitches, so I imagine I’ll keep them.”

On his conversations with pitching coaches and coordinators: “It depends on how my season is going — how I’m doing — or if I need some mechanical help. Things like that. But mostly it’s just kind of normal talk.

“Organizationally, that’s kind of how they handle things. If something gets out of whack, they’ll say something, but they’re not going to just drill something in someone’s head. They’re not going to mess with you too much. They let you pitch.”

On tempo: “I like to get the ball and throw it. That helps keep my defense in the game, to where they can be sharp and play some good D for me. I figure no one likes to stand out there while the pitcher is lackadaisically taking 20 seconds between every pitch. I like to keep them involved as much as possible. Get the ball, throw strikes.”




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David Laurila grew up in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and now writes about baseball from his home in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He authored the Prospectus Q&A series at Baseball Prospectus from February 2006-March 2011 and is a regular contributor to several publications. His first book, Interviews from Red Sox Nation, was published by Maple Street Press in 2006. He can be followed on Twitter @DavidLaurilaQA


8 Responses to “Q&A: Kyle Crick, San Francisco Giants Pitching Prospect”

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  1. Shankbone says:

    Thanks for the read on the Wild Stallion. Just think: Sabean was chasing Juan Uribe and Ned Coletti went over the top with an extra 1MM in deferred moneys (being paid right now) and the Giants had to settle for that supplemental pick. Sometimes hording draft picks might turn out OK. Of course… He’s only going to Richmond now. Great prospecto!

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    • Now that was a great signing. Gave him a minor league deal, he worked his way onto the team, played well enough, won a ring with him helping big time, and then we ended up with Crick.

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      • Shankbone says:

        It would be just classic for the Giants to re-sign him now to backup 2B/SS/3B, most likely he wants a starting job and 3 years but I’d take Uribe back for 2/12MM in a heartbeat. Juan Uribe was a great, great signing, and the Crick pick to come out of him leaving was icing on the cake.

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  2. PillsburyFlowboy says:

    Let me just start by saying I love Crick and it’s always a treat to get some behind the scenes knowledge on pitch grips and the like. But what I found odd about this interview (through no fault of your own, David, great work as usual), was how often Crick seemed to talk about locating his pitches (command) whereas he has had a demonstrable issue with walks to date (control). How much are these two related? Can you really have one without the other? I’ve often heard that control is one of the last skills for a pitching prospect to develop, but it’s nevertheless worrisome to see top prospects like Crick or Aaron Sanchez issue so many free passes. It may be a little hindsight, but I would have loved to hear Crick’s response to this criticism of him and how he plans to improve upon it.

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    • I would note that one reason Crick might appear to be learning control is that he is still learning pitching, he starting pitching just before his senior season, on the showcase circuit, so this is roughly his 3rd full season as a pitcher.

      I would also note that while it would be great if he got his walks down, the more key stat is his K/BB, which is significantly above the 2.0 that you want to see out of starting pitchers and was at the 2.4 (or greater) that you want to see out of good pitchers.

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  3. DrBGiantsfan says:

    Thanks for the great interview. Crick definitely gives us Giants fans someone to dream on.

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  4. nolan says:

    Thanks for the great Q&A Mr. Laurila. Always a good read.

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  5. Yehuda Hamer says:

    Why 7 years?

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