As 25 year old relievers in A-ball go, Bob McCrory is one hell of a prospect. Of course, Bob McCrory is no ordinary A-ball reliever.
Equipped with one of the most electrifying arms in the organization, the burly right-hander from Mississippi has seen multiple injuries keep him from fulfilling the promise the Orioles saw in him when they made him a 4th round selection in 2003.
"The first year I signed, I had problem with my elbow and missed the whole year," McCrory told Inside The Warehouse. "I came back the next year and, mid-way through the season, my knee started giving me problems, so I had surgery on my left knee after the season. I came back from the knee rehab and everything and blew out my elbow my fifth start back from it. There've been a lot of injuries there."
Nevertheless, McCrory has persisted and is now closing games for the Frederick Keys. He now sits at 14 saves, with a 1.23 ERA and 22 strikeouts in as many innings. This is no surprise to many observers, who have long felt that McCrory needed only to stay healthy to succeed. In fact, McCrory's name was on the short list of players in the Orioles' organization being considered by other teams in the Rule 5 Draft this past off-season.
"I heard the rumors. It's always nice to be talked about and see your name places, but I didn't really look too much into it because it is kind of a long shot to get picked up when you've had two surgeries and have been pitching in Aberdeen the past two years. It was nice to be on the list, though."
Watching McCrory pitch, it is occasionally apparent that he needs some polish after so much time off. He has some bouts with control problems and is still prone to overthrowing when things aren't going his way. Still, it's rare to see a pitcher with his raw arm strength. And when he is on, he's one of the most dominating pitchers in the Carolina League.
"I throw a fastball; I'm usually sitting anywhere from 94-96, topping out at 97, 98. I actually throw a curveball and a slider. The slider's usually around 84, 85. The curveball is in the low-80's. And I throw a changeup that's about 85 [MPH]."
"The curveball, I usually use it earlier in the count. It's more of a strike pitch for me and it's got more of the down bite to it. The slider has the slide and down [movement] to it and it's a little bit harder, so the slider is a bit more of a strikeout pitch than the curveball is."
After as much adversity as he has experienced in his career, Bob McCrory is hesitant to discuss long-term goals. He can only control how he pitches, not where he pitches.
"I want to go out and pitch well and whatever happens, happens. I just try to do my job every time out."
Michael Hollman is the Senior Writer for Inside The Warehouse and can be reached via email at Publisher@InsideTheWarehouse.com