Tigers Prospect Profile #1: Casey Crosby

Crosby is TigsTown's top prospect

That's right ladies and gentleman, TigsTown's top prospect is none other than left-hander Casey Crosby! Find out what makes Crosby worthy of the distinction inside!

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

Background
The Tigers fifth round pick in 2007, Crosby was one of several significantly over-slot signings from that draft class. Considered un-signable for all but first round money, the Tigers lured him away from his college commitment with a signing bonus approaching $750,000.

Crosby got his first taste of pro ball in an unofficial manner during the Fall Instructional League that year, after negotiations lingered throughout the summer. During the fall, he was diagnosed with a torn ulner collateral ligament in his left-elbow; requiring Tommy John surgery.

Crosby missed much of the 2008 season recovering from the surgery, making only three starts in the Gulf Coast League near the season's end. In those three starts, Crosby only tossed 4 2/3 innings, allowing four hits and three walks, with two strikeouts.

Completely healthy heading into the 2009 season, the Tigers pushed the then 20-year old lefty to West Michigan for a true test of his ability. After an up and down start to the year, Crosby dominated once he settled in. Finishing with a 10-4 record in 24 starts, Crosby posted a very nice 2.41 ERA and struck out 117 batters in 104 2/3 innings of work. The performance was so impressive, the Tigers named him their Minor League Pitcher of the Year.

Scouting Report
Crosby is a big, imposing figure on the mound, with a fastball to match his stature. His plus-plus fastball from the left side sits regularly in the 93-94 range, and touches 97 in just about every outing. The ball jumps out of his hand and explodes on hitters. He is murder on lefties with his willingness to throw inside, and as he learns to command his fastball even more, he could be even more deadly.

The breaking ball and change-up that Crosby throws both require some refinement, but also show promise. His breaking ball flashes as a plus pitch at times, but lacks the consistency in break and command at this time. His feel for the pitch improved throughout the season last year, and most scouts like what he shows with the breaker. His change-up will likely always be behind his fastball and breaking ball, but it has a chance to develop into a solid off-speed pitch with some sink. Developing his change-up could help him significantly against more advanced right-handed hitters.

Some scouts question Crosby's arm action, and tend to believe he is going to continue to have arm trouble down the line. He cleaned up his delivery some during his rehab, and there is less effort to each of his pitches. Despite his exceptional athleticism (he was a standout wide receiver in high school) Crosby still needs work repeating his delivery.

Crosby is an exuberant player that loves to be on the field and working at his craft. He takes well to coaching, works hard at everything, and has a great presence on the field. As long as his change-up becomes a passable third pitch, Crosby has the ceiling of a number two starter in the big leagues.

Performance

Level

Team

W-L

ERA

G

GS

SV

SO

BB

IP

AVG

A

West Mich.

10-4

2.41

24

24

0

117

48

104.2

.195


Health Record
For a player with such little experience, his injury history is quickly becoming cause for concern. Though he has showed no lingering effects, Crosby suffered a significant knee injury playing football in high school.

His aforementioned Tommy John surgery was not shocking to the many scouts that shuddered at his arm action coming out of high school. He came back stronger and more mechanically refined after the injury, but some are worried this could be the first piece in what may become a trend for Crosby. Crosby missed time during the 2009 season with a severe blister problem on his left hand, one that hampered him down the stretch in West Michigan, and was reportedly a problem for him again during the Fall Instructional League.

As if that wasn't enough, Crosby started this year on the disabled list at Lakeland with what has been reported as both a bone bruise and/or basic inflammation in his elbow. He was placed on a two-week no-throw order and was slated to begin throwing again soon in an effort to regain his arm strength and join the Lakeland rotation.

At this point, Crosby is going to have to prove he is capable of becoming a durable starting pitcher, and that he is capable of remaining a starter over the long haul.

The Future
The future is very uncertain for Crosby right now, and until he is back on the mound in games, throwing pain free, that future will remain uncertain. If his current injury turns out to be anything significant, it will put a serious chink in his prospect armor.

Some on the Tigers development staff believed Crosby may have been capable of an aggressive push to Double-A this season. Unless he's back on the mound soon, that sort of promotion schedule will be in jeopardy.

If he is able to get on track and stay healthy, Crosby could develop into a legitimate number two starter at the big league level, and he could get there as quickly as late 2011. The Tigers have plenty of power arms in the systems, but precious few from the left side, giving Crosby a distinct advantage when it comes to opportunities in Detroit.

Mark Anderson is TigsTown's Managing Editor and feature Minor League writer. He can be reached at Mark@TigsTown.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @TigsTownMark or Twitter.com/TigsTownMark.

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