Tigers Prospect Profile #5: Casey Crosby

Will 2013 finally be the year for Crosby?

A fixture in the TigsTown Top Ten for the last several years, Casey Crosby got his first taste of the big leagues in 2012, making a few spot starts in Detroit, but without much success. Will 2013 finally be the year Crosby puts it all together, or will it be the year the Tigers shift his role?

Casey Crosby
Position: Left-handed Pitcher
Height: 6-5
Weight: 225
Born: 9/17/1988
Bats: Right
Throws: Left

Acquired: 2007 MLB Draft, 5th Round
Ranking History: #9 (2008), #4 (2009), #1 (2010), #20 (2011), #4 (2012)

Background
An expensive fifth round pick in 2007, Crosby signed with the Tigers out of an Illinois high school for over $700,000. Crosby signed too late to make his professional debut in 2007 and then promptly went under the knife for Tommy John surgery that fall.

After months of rehab, Crosby came back and pitched in three Gulf Coast League games at the end of 2008, tossing just 4 /23 innings across three starts. The Tigers pushed the then 20-year old Crosby to West Michigan in 2009 and he made 24 starts for the Whitecaps. In the process, he posted a sparkling 2.41 ERA and struck out 117 batters in just 104 2/3 innings.

Looking to build of his impressive 2009 campaign, Crosby missed almost all of the 2010 season with elbow problems, pitching just three games in the Gulf Coast League and posting an 8.76 ERA.

Finally healthy again in 2011, Crosby moved straight to Double-A Erie where he made 25 starts and posted a 4.10 ERA. In 131 2/3 innings, Crosby allowed just 122 hits and struck out 121 batters; though he did walk 77.

The Tigers promoted Crosby again in 2012, moving him to Triple-A Toledo where he made 22 starts and pitch 125 2/3 innings. Crosby's 4.01 ERA was solid and he again allowed less than a hit per inning and struck out about eight batters per nine innings.

During the 2012 season, Crosby made his Major League debut with three starts in June. All told, Crosby finished his big-league stint with a 9.49 ERA, 15 hits and eleven walks allowed in just 12 1/3 innings, and only nine strikeouts.

Scouting Report
Crosby's physical frame and impressive athleticism fit the mold of a prototypical Detroit pitching prospect. Crosby is very well built with broad shoulders, plenty of strength and high-end athleticism. He has a love for the game that is nearly unmatched, exhibiting energy on the field and being lauded for his makeup.

Despite his strength, athleticism and coordination, Crosby struggles to find consistency on the mound. He lacks top-end arm speed which results in his arm dragging behind his body much of the time. As he tries to make up for this flaw, the rest of his delivery falls apart and he ends up with an inconsistent landing, incomplete rotation, and poor extension.

Crosby's troubling delivery has led to continual control problems throughout his career and may have even contributed to his regular bouts with elbow injuries. Crosby has yet to develop an ability to throw consistent strikes and has almost no projection for command.

With all those negatives, it can be easy to overlook what the positives that Crosby brings to the table. After dialing back his approach a bit, Crosby's fastball now sits consistently in the 91-93 mph range and regularly reaches 94-95 mph during his starts. He has good life on the fastball and pitches with a steep downward trajectory. Crosby has run his fastball up to 98 mph in the past but he has learned to save those bullets for situations where they are required, rather than just airing it out all the time.

Crosby's curveball can flash as one of the better breaking pitches in the Tigers system. When his delivery is in sync, his curveball shows tight spin and good depth, working as an above-average pitch that he can bury in the dirt as a chase pitch. Because of his mechanical inconsistencies, Crosby's breaking ball is very hit or miss.

Crosby has yet to show feel for a changeup, despite tinkering with different grips and working hard at developing the pitch. His current version of a changeup is often too firm and almost always below average.

Crosby's size and primary two pitches hint at a pitcher capable of pitching in the third or fourth spot in a big league rotation. Unfortunately, his delivery has not progressed to the point that such a projection is reasonable. I have become increasingly convinced that Crosby would benefit from a move to the bullpen where he can ramp up the velocity on both the fastball and curveball in short bursts.

Performance

Level

Team

W-L

ERA

G

GS

SV

SO

BB

IP

BAA

AAA

Toledo

7-9

4.01

22

22

0

112

65

125.2

.238

ML

Detroit

1-1

9.49

3

3

0

9

11

12.1

.313


Health Record
Crosby has been brittle throughout his career. After a major knee injury playing football in high school, he went under the knife almost immediately after signing with the Tigers; requiring Tommy John surgery to repair a torn ligament in his left elbow. After appearing healthy in 2009, Crosby was back on the shelf with elbow trouble in 2010. He has logged more innings the last two years with only minimal soreness, hinting that his arm problems may be behind him.

Projection
While some members of the organization hold out hope for Crosby's future in the rotation, most scouts outside the organization have resigned to the fact that he is destined for the bullpen long term. With a messy delivery that has some effort and a history of injuries, Crosby may find more consistent success in short stints where he doesn't have to worry about dialing things back to conserve energy over multiple innings. In a relief role, Crosby could profile as a dominating lefty setup man.

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