Tigers Prospect Profile #20: Casey Crosby

Taking the most notable dramatic fall of any prospect from 2010 to 2011, Casey Crosby still has a very impressive repertoire. What will he have to do to make his way back up and into the top ten?

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

Background
The Tigers accurately judged Crosby's signability in 2007 when the popped him in the fifth round of the draft. With most teams scared off by a rumored high bonus demand and a strong commitment to baseball at Illinois, Crosby was falling on most team's boards. The Tigers were still aggressive with him and most reports indicate they had agreed to a bonus near $750,000 soon after the draft, despite MLB not allowing them to announce until the August signing deadline.

It was soon after signing, during the Fall Instructional League, that Crosby began experiencing pain in his left elbow. That pain ultimately required Tommy John surgery to repair a torn UCL, and forced him to miss the entire 2008 season.

Back in full health in 2009, Crosby dominated the Midwest League for much of the season. The then 20-year old left-hander allowed only 70 hits in 104 2/3 innings, while fanning 117 opposing hitters. He started 24 games that season, finishing with a 10-4 record and 2.41 ERA, all while being limited by a 75-pitch limit per start.

Big things were expected in 2010, as Crosby was slated to be a major cog in the Lakeland rotation, but that all changed when he began dealing with elbow pain during the spring. In the end, Crosby made only three rehab appearances in the GCL last year, getting touched up for a 8.76 ERA.

Scouting Report
When healthy, Crosby offers an electric package that is accentuated by his outstanding athleticism. He offers a plus-plus fastball that can sit at 94-95 with ease and has gotten up to 97 at times in the past. He has strength in his frame, including thick legs and broad, muscular shoulders.

Crosby's curveball flashes plus potential, but he has yet to show that level of ability consistently. He often gets around his curveball, causing it to lose its tight rotation and subsequently its biting break. At times, it can show as a solid, downer curve with swing-and-miss potential.

He lacks feel for throwing his change-up, but he continues to try to work it into his arsenal. He is often too firm with the pitch and he tries to guide it rather than trusting the grip and letting it go.

Though his athleticism should let him repeat his mechanics, Crosby struggles to maintain his arm slot and scouts are almost unanimous in disliking his arm action. One scout I spoke with following the 2009 season suggested that his arm hurt when he watched Crosby throw.

The raw stuff is undeniable, and he has the makeup and attitude to back it up. On pure ceiling, Crosby could be a number two starter with two plus to plus-plus pitches and potential for another fringe-average pitch. That said, there are an abnormal amount of obstacles standing between the present and that ceiling.

Performance

Level

Team

W-L

ERA

G

GS

SV

SO

BB

IP

AVG

R

GCL Tigers

0-1

8.76

3

3

0

10

4

12.1

.382


Health Record
The details on Crosby's injury problems last year are as fuzzy as his future. Initially, he was reported as having general soreness, and that quickly morphed into a bone bruise. Attempts to diagnose the problem later in the summer showed no structural damage in his elbow, but pain persisted. He was shut down late in the summer and did not throw again in 2010.

Early word out of Lakeland indicates that Crosby is "healthy and strong" right now, but judgment should be reserved until he is back to throwing on a regular schedule without pain or discomfort.

The Future
With health, Crosby should start the 2011 season in the Lakeland rotation, right where he was slated to start the 2010 season. He has the top notch stuff to blow through the Florida State League and get a chance at Double-A before the end of the season.

An increasing number of scouts are beginning to wonder whether or not he will be able to handle a starter's workload. He has three professional seasons under his belt and less than 125 innings to show for it, with two completely lost seasons due to injury.

The 2011 season is a huge season in Crosby's development. There is more risk associated with him than any prospect in the system, but at the same time, there are only a couple of players in the system with more potential reward. If he makes it through this season without injury, his stock should soar back toward previous levels (#1 on this list entering the 2010 season), but if injuries bite again, this year's pessimistic rating will be validated.

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