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.
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.”