Hitter Scouting Reports: Coming Soon
Kyle Crick is one of the bigger prospect names in the AFL and hasn't disappointed me in the stuff department either time I've seen him. In this outing, he sat 93-97 mph with occasional plus cutting action to the pitch, along with a hard slider at 85-87 mph that flashed plus potential and a hard changeup at 84-89 mph that flashed above average potential but is the pitch he has the least command of. To say Crick has had command issues when I've seen him is an understatement. He couldn't get through his inning in the Futures Game in July due to wildness and he walked the first three batters of this game before settling down to have acceptable command the rest of the way.
There are some mechanical underpinnings to these command concerns beyond a handful of innings I've seen (but in his two full seasons, Crick has had 5.4 and 5.1 BB/9 so this isn't isolated to when I see him). Crick loads his shoulder a good bit like most power pitchers do, but that in combination with his short stride/quick foot plant often make his arm late. This creates command issues and some long-term injury concerns given the torque created by his arm speed. Crick also has his head down often at release and his glove hand/trail leg finish position is very inconsistent. These two issues create timing/sync issues throughout his entire body at release, so you can see where command issues would come from.
For reference, Mariners RHP Taijuan Walker checks every box for frontline starter from stuff to size to athleticism but has command issues later in starts with only one of these issues (inconsistent glove position at release). Crick doesn't look very athletic in his delivery the two times I've seen him and while these issues are fixable and vary start-to-start (so sometimes aren't much of an issue), I'm not sure there's more than fringy command here long-term. It'll take a very good pitching coach to help Crick reach his ultimate upside, but the current version with slight tweaks can still be a league average or better starter on the strength of his overpowering pure stuff.
Facing Crick and making for what seemed like the longest first inning of all time was Padres righty Johnny Barbato. Barbato walked four in the first inning and was pulled after only getting two outs but showed enough stuff to project a big league future. The 6'2 righty doesn't have any physical projection remaining but worked 91-95 mph with some life and while I didn't see a ton of his off-speed pitches and his command was off, both his 76-79 mph curveball and 85-86 mph changeup were at least average and may both be a little better than that. Barbato has a better command track record than Crick but clearly less stuff; you're looking for a back-end starter here without much of a chance for more.
Following Barbato was fellow Padres righty Keyvius Sampson. Sampson is a little smaller at 6'0 and had a better time throwing strikes than Barbato, but their stuff was similar. Sampson sat 92-94 mph in his inning with and 85-87 mph slider and mid-70's curveball that were both at least average in a limited look. He's got a clean arm and good delivery that bode well for projection. I'd like to see more but he looked like a little better of a long-term bet than Barbato from short looks on them both.
Royals RHP Angel Baez followed Barbato and sped the game along with better command despite more effort to his delivery. Baez sat 92-96 mph with some two-seam life and flashed an at times above average 79-80 mph curveball as along as a usable fringy changeup. Baez's command was still fringy at best due to a high-effort delivery, long arm action and complete lack of balance but he makes it work enough to end up near the strike zone. There's a power middle reliever here if he can stay healthy and keep the delivery in check.
Speaking of odd deliveries, Mariners RHP Carson Smith's is plenty unusual as a huge guy (6'6/215) with an arm-heavy, slinging sidearm motion. He worked 92-95 with good life created from his low slot but his slider was just fringy. I could see this working in middle relief as a big power righty that can generate ground balls but the slider keeps him from much more.
Lastly, I had heard this summer that another Mariners RHP Dominic Leone, had a recent velo jump and had gone from largely anonymous 5'11 16th round pick out of Clemson to a quick-moving reliever that had touched 100 mph. In his inning, Leone sat 95-96 mph, flashed a hard cutter at 88-91 that was plus at times and an 84 mph slider that was also at least average. There's some effort to his delivery but it's surprisingly fluid and athletic for what's coming out given his size. This is at least setup man type stuff and definitely fits in high leverage innings.