Tigers Prospect Profile #9: Casey Crosby

The Tigers snagged Casey Crosby in the fifth round despite being a first round talent, and were excited about his potential. But the Tigers will have to wait to see that potential in action, as Crosby underwent season-ending Tommy John surgery during the offseason.

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

Background
Crosby was one of the reasons the Tigers drew the ire of the Commissioner's office in the wake of last year's draft; because he was one of those players the Tigers went over slot to sign. Projected as the top prospect in the state of Illinois entering the draft, Crosby had a strong college commitment and a reportedly high price tag to buy him out of that commitment. The Tigers did their homework to understand the price and what his interest level in signing was, and after a summer of finalizing details, the Tigers signed Crosby for just shy of $750,000. Because of his late signing, Crosby did not make his professional debut in 2007, and in an unfortunate twist, elbow surgery will keep him from debuting as a pro until the 2009 season.

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 was also 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.

Scouting Report
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, his plus-plus fastball from the left side could allow him to 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 started toying with the pitch in any serious capacity at the tail end of his high school career. His arm speed had 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 number two 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
Did not play in '07

Health Record
Despite concerns over the wear on his shoulder because of the amount of arm he uses in his delivery, Crosby's elbow gave out first; requiring Tommy John ligament replacement surgery late last fall. Early reports are positive with regards to his rehab, and he is expected to be at full strength for the 2009 campaign. Crosby also has a mild history of knee problems, having torn his meniscus as a junior in high school. He has not shown any lingering effects as a result of that injury.

The Future
Its never a good time for a pitcher to go down with a bum elbow, but it could still turn out to be a blessing in disguise for Crosby. This should enable him to become more familiar with mechanics of the pro game, as well as add additional strength through his rehab process; strength that will be much needed to maintain his stamina and durability as he undergoes the transition to the pro game.

Provided that his recovery from surgery is a complete success in time for the start of the '09 season, it is likely Crosby will be sent to West Michigan to start his professional career. With his desire to compete, his blazing fastball, and his pure athleticism, Crosby has all the makings of an elite pitching prospect; now he just has to make it all the way back from elbow reconstruction.

Mark Anderson is TigsTown's Managing Editor and feature Minor League writer. He can be reached at Mark@TigsTown.com.


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