RC Mailbag: Why is Crow #1?

Every year, Royals Corner's Top 60 prospect list generates a number of reader e-mails. Today, RC opens up the mailbag to answer the question of why we selected Aaron Crow as the Royals' top prospect when several other publications had someone else atop their lists.

RC, I noticed that pretty much every other prospect publication picked Mike Montgomery as the organization's best prospect. You named Aaron Crow as the best prospect, and Montgomery is listed as your third best prospect. Why do you have so much faith in Crow? -- Sandy, Overland Park, KS

RC: First off, Sandy, I think it's important to recognize that Montgomery is an excellent prospect. There's no question that he's one of the top left-handed pitching prospects in the minor leagues.

Ultimately, the rankings reflected what we've seen and what we've heard. We saw Montgomery for the first time in August. We would've seen him earlier in the summer, but the Official RC Jetta decided to break down in Bloomfield, Iowa, about 100 miles short of Burlington, the first time we were scheduled to see him on the hill. Therefore, our first exposure to Montgomery came in Lynchburg, Virginia, when we saw him go six innings in a 5-3 Blue Rocks extra-inning win.

Montgomery is an excellent prospect

His fastball command was pretty good. The fastball was sitting at 90-92 mph and topping out at 94. He held his velocity well, hitting 92 in the fifth and sixth innings of his outing. His curveball command was a little spotty in the early innings, but it improved as the game wore on. His used his changeup liberally, and it was coming in at 82-84 mph and keeping the hitters off balanced. Ultimately, he surrendered two runs on six hits in six innings. He didn't walk anyone, but he didn't strike out anyone either.

So why does Crow rank higher on our list? We've spent several years covering the amateur draft. Over the last several years, We've seen many first round talents pitch collegiately.

Crow was the most complete collegiate pitcher we've ever seen

The truth is, more often than not, we've been disappointed. Often you'll read scouting reports about how awesome the top collegiate pitchers can be. You see reports on their top velocities and their nasty breaking stuff. Before Stephen Strasburg (who we haven't seen), the two pitchers with the most pre-draft hype over the last several years were Andrew Miller and David Price. Neither one of those pitchers, in the outings we saw, had much fastball command. Both relied heavily on their breaking balls, which were excellent.

So anyway, when it came time to see Crow, we were skeptical. He had quite a bit of hype, just like the others. But he actually delivered. Without a doubt, Crow had the best fastball command of any collegiate pitcher we've ever seen. And not only did he have the command, but his fastball actually registered in the mid-90s as advertised. His fastball and command have generated similar praise throughout instructs, the Arizona Fall League, and this year's spring training. His slider is also very good, but the truth of the matter is that we ranked Crow atop the prospect list because of his fastball command. Guys who spot their fastballs with movement like Crow have long careers in the Major Leagues. And that's why he's our top-ranked prospect.

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