Tigers Prospect Profile #4: Casey Crosby

Crosby spent time in the Arizona Fall League

A hard throwing left-hander, when Casey Crosby hasn't been hurt, he has impressed scouts with his velocity, dialing his fastball up to 98. If Crosby can stay healthy, and harness control of his power fastball, he could be dynamic.

Casey Crosby
Position: Left-handed Pitcher
Height: 6-5
Weight: 200
Born: 9/17/1988
Bats: Right
Throws: Left

Background
A standout high school athlete, Crosby was believed to have a firm commitment to attend Illinois following his senior year of high school in 2007. The Tigers took a chance and plucked Crosby in the fifth round of that summer's draft, ultimately pulling him away from college for a bonus near $750,000.

Crosby signed so late that year that his only professional experience came during the Fall Instructional League. After experiencing pain in his elbow, Crosby was shut down and forced under the knife for Tommy John surgery.

Back on the mound late in the 2008 season, Crosby tossed 4 2/3 innings of scoreless ball in his return to game action.

The Tigers pushed the then 20-year old Crosby to West Michigan in 2009, hoping to jump start his career and make up for some lost developmental time. Crosby started 24 games for the Whitecaps in 2009 and was nothing short of spectacular. He finished the year with a 10-4 record and 2.41 ERA. He allowed only six hits per nine innings and struck out over ten batters per nine innings as he blew the ball past Midwest League hitters for 104 2/3 innings.

Elbow problems resurfaced in 2010 as Crosby was limited to just 12 1/3 ineffective innings in the Gulf Coast League. Crosby was not forced to endure another surgery but at this point he had missed two full seasons out of his first three as a professional.

Back in action and pushed to Double-A Erie for the 2011 season, Crosby started a career high 25 games for the Seawolves. His 4.10 ERA hints at some bumps in the road, but he still managed to allow less than a hit per inning, strikeout nearly a batter per inning and reach a career high in innings with 131 2/3 frames. His one problem throughout the year was his control, as he walked 77 batters on the year.

The Tigers added Crosby to the 40-man roster this off-season, protecting him from the Rule 5 draft and giving a clear indication of their belief in his considerable potential.

Scouting Report
Nothing is easy for Crosby on the mound. A former All-State wide receiver in high school, Crosby is an exceptional athlete. He is extremely physical and has a strong frame with the durability to hold velocity late into games.

Despite his supreme athleticism, Crosby struggles to repeat his delivery. His arm action is poor and at times it can look flat out painful when he throws. At times, his arm will lag behind the rest of his body, causing his control to suffer significantly. At other times he rushes through everything and gets even further out of whack.

Almost in spite of those problems, Crosby still offers considerable raw stuff. His fastball is an overpowering beast of a pitch. He can dial his four-seamer up to 98 mph at times and will sit at 94-95 mph throughout his starts. He has a tendency to pitch up in the zone with his fastball but the shear velocity and life allows him to get away with it much of the time.

Crosby's curveball shows at least above-average potential with some scouts believing it could be a plus pitch in time. Because of the problems with his delivery and arm action, Crosby's curveball remains extremely inconsistent, not just from start to start, but from inning to inning.

Crosby has worked to add a change-up to his arsenal and he will flash a useable show-me pitch on occasion. By and large, the pitch remains well below-average and is not something he can rely on in tough situations.

As already discussed, Crosby's control – not just command, but control – is a significant problem. He frequently battles the strike zone and often leaves himself behind in the count and with runners on because of walks.

Coaches laud Crosby for his enthusiasm and work ethic. He has come back from injury time and again with the same zeal for the game and each time, he has returned in better physical condition than before.

If one really wants to dream in the abstract they can still see number two or three starter potential in Crosby. In a more realistic view, Crosby's huge fastball, intermittent breaking ball and control problems may push him to the bullpen long term.

Performance

Level

Team

W-L

ERA

G

GS

SV

SO

BB

IP

WHIP

AA

Erie

9-7

4.10

25

25

0

121

77

131.2

1.51


Health Record
Crosby's injury issues began in high school when he blew out his knee playing football. He successfully returned from 2007 Tommy John surgery to log plenty of innings in 2009. Crosby's 2010 season was nearly erased due to mysterious elbow problems that some have speculated were simply the result of too much work during the 2009 season. There were some minor instances of soreness for Crosby in 2011 and he will always have to be monitored closely due to his history with injury and his poor arm action.

The Future
The Tigers optioned Crosby to Triple-A to start the 2012 season, where he will work in a prospect-heavy rotation.

The 2012 season will be an opportunity for Crosby to demonstrate that he can handle heavy innings two seasons in a row without breaking down. If he can do that, he will maintain a slim chance at sticking in the middle of a big league rotation. If injuries do crop up this summer, Crosby's move to the bullpen may not be too far behind.

Even without injuries, his power left arm and ability to let it fly in short bursts could be a valuable weapon to the Tigers down the stretch this year, giving Crosby the opportunity to impact the pennant race from the bullpen.

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