Position: Left-handed Pitcher
Casey Crosby had been the top 2007 draft prospect in Illinois for quite some time – and it wasn't even close. Projected as a late first rounder, Crosby fell to the Tigers in the 5th round in part due to a strong commitment to college and because of his likely hefty price tag; a reported $700,000.
As a senior at Kaneland High School, Crosby was named the Illinois Gatorade Player of the Year, while also being named to the All-Area, All-Region, All-Conference, and All-State teams. He has also been nominated for the High School All-American Team. A solid 6-2 record was backed by exceptional peripherals; including a 0.88/1.01 line and 92 strikeouts in 63.2 innings. Crosby was also a standout football player at Kaneland, snatching 76 passes as a senior, 19 of them for touchdowns.
The calling card here is a big time fastball that sits in the 92-94 range, and gets up to 96 with some nice arm-side action. The ball jumps out of his hand, getting on hitters in a hurry. His explosive fastball lacks impressive command, but he can throw strikes routinely. Casey must improve his ability to work the corners, particularly in to righties. Crosby is pretty raw, and is much more the thrower, rather than a true pitcher. Once he begins to learn the ‘art' of pitching, he could absolutely take off.
Casey's secondary pitches need work, but show some promise. His slider has good hard bite down in the zone, and he commands it reasonably well. He consistently works the pitch to the right side of the plate in the 83-85 mph range, and has shown an aptitude for burying it on the back foot of right-handers. His change-up lacks movement and command, but he's only recently started toying with the pitch in any serious capacity. His arm speed has been good in the early stages, which bodes well for his development of the high-70s pitch.
Crosby's mechanics could stand some work; namely softening his front leg a bit and generating additional push off the mound. He uses a lot of arm right now, and must begin to use the leverage generated by his long, wiry frame. Despite a huge growth spurt between his junior and senior years, Crosby remains well coordinated, repeating his delivery well. He is an outstanding athlete with enormous potential on the field. If he can continue improving his off-speed pitches, he's got mid-rotation potential.
Even in the midst of a blazing fastball, Crosby's biggest asset may still be his overall makeup. He has an unrivaled competitive fire, and wants the ball in his hands with the game on the line. At times, he can try to do too much on the field, losing focus of what is in his control, and what is not. His desire to play the game and enthusiasm on the field are evident at all times.
Performance Level Team W-L ERA CG SV SO BB IP WHIP HBP High School
Crosby suffered a torn meniscus playing football during his junior season, but has come back healthy and strong. As mentioned, he uses a lot of arm in his current delivery, and must be watched carefully in the coming years for any signs of undue wear on his shoulder.
Crosby certainly isn't going to be an easy sign for the Tigers, but there were some early encouraging signs that the organization may be able to get him into the system. Once signed, Crosby will likely head to the Gulf Coast League to start his professional career. Considering the standard pitcher-friendly environment of the GCL parks, it is likely that Crosby could get off to a solid start this summer.
He is going to need some work, and some time to develop as a player and a person, but Casey has loads of potential. The Tigers have a knack for developing pitchers, and for pushing them to the right level at the right time; a knack I expect to continue with Crosby. Keep an eye on this big lefty, as he could be part of the next great Tigers pitching class.
Mark Anderson covers the Tigers' minor league system and all of minor league baseball for TigsTown.com. He can be reached at Mark@TigsTown.com.