TigsTown Q&A: Left-hander Casey Crosby

After an outstanding 2009 season, including a second half of the year in which he absolutely dominated his Midwest League competition, Casey Crosby is preparing to take on his next test in 2010. Where does he think he'll be, and how hard was the jump to full season ball after having only pitched rookie ball previously?

TigsTown: When are you heading to Lakeland?

Casey Crosby: I'm actually here right now. I got here on January 17th.

TT: What do you look forward to this year in spring training?

CC: I am looking forward to building off what I have been learning ever since I got into pro ball. Just soaking up as much knowledge as I can and trying to become a more polished and complete pitcher.

TT: Do you have any aspirations for which roster you're going to land on this year?

CC: If you talk to any ball player they would tell you they want to be at the highest level possible because we are are all competitors and want to face the best competition. With that, I would love to see what I can bring to the table in Erie. If I start out in Lakeland though, I wont mind it. I just hope to get to Erie by the end of the season.

TT: Prior to last season, you had only pitched a little bit in rookie ball since leaving high school. How big was the adjustment to that level of competition?

CC: The jump was huge. I remember coming into instructs of 2007 as an 18 year old trying to blow everything past everyone. That plan didn't work out one bit. In high school I obviously used my fastball over 90% of the time so when I realized I couldn't do that anymore I needed to learn to read swings and recognize hitters habits. I even struggled with that in West Michigan but I feel like I improved tremendously as the season went on.

TT: Looking back at last season, you struggled with your control a bit during the season's first half, but things turned around big time after that. What was the difference for you between the first and second half of the year?

CC: I think it was just calming down and getting confidence in myself. Also, the first half of the season I still hadn't gotten that many innings under me after surgery to feel completely comfortable up there. I was erratic and felt if I walked a guy I lost complete confidence in myself rather than getting the ball back and thinking it was nothing and keep that confidence that I can throw it wherever I want.

TT: The Tigers named you their minor league Pitcher of the Year. TigsTown named you its Organizational Pitcher of the Year. The accolades were all over the place in 2009. Is it tough to take that in stride and focus on the task at hand?

CC: For me, it's not tough at all. Despite the awards that I got from 2009, I feel like there's tons more to prove. However, these awards are an absolute honor and I really appreciate them.

TT: In your first full year back from Tommy John surgery, your arm was healthy, but you had some trouble with your throwing hand. Can you explain to our readers what the problem was, how it cropped up, and what it took to get things fixed?

CC: Well I developed a blister on the index finger on my throwing hand. It seems like such a silly thing to be out for but pitchers that get bad blisters in the wrong spot aren't able to throw. Not only can they not be able to get a good feel on the ball, but it also hurts and only get worse if not treated right. Mine developed on a muggy day when my hands were moist and soggy and when that happens your skin breaks open easier. and after my 3rd inning of work throwing 2 seam fastballs, the seam cut under the skin of my finger and the blister popped up. the main thing that you need for it to heal is time and keeping it dry.

TT: Speaking of your arm and the prior surgery, was there any point in the 2009 season where your arm really started bothering you, or were you strong and pain free all summer?

CC: I was pain free the whole summer. The only thing that I felt would be tightness, but if I'd ever feel it I'd tell my trainer he'd give it a good 10 minute rub and it would be fine after that. I am very lucky to have rehabbed it back to normal.

TT: Looking back at the summer of 2007, it was clearly eventful with the draft and everything that ensued. Can you tell me about your draft experience, and how the entire thing went down with the Tigers?

CC: Well I had no clue the Tigers were interested in drafting me until I was actually drafted by them. It's such a surreal feeling that a major league organization would like for you to play for them. It felt like a dream to me. However, I had to wait the whole summer in order to be able to sign with them. And right off the bat I learned another part of baseball. The business part. However, I'm so glad I did and with such a great organization.

TT: The contract discussions obviously lasted until the deadline in August; was there ever any doubt that you were going to sign, or was it just a matter of waiting to announce it?

CC: Oh yeah there was definitely doubt in my mind. especially in the beginning of the summer because until mid July, the scouting director David Chadd never even saw me pitch in person. So I didn't know for sure I was going to sign but I felt like there was a good chance I would.

TT: Just weeks after signing, you take the hill for the Fall Instructional League, and you promptly go under the knife with ligament replacement surgery on your elbow. How much of a hit was that to you mentally?

CC: It honestly didn't take that much of a hit on me. I knew Tommy John surgery was a pretty standard procedure and if you rehab it well you will be back the same time next year. I also figured why not have it now when I haven't gotten much development in pro ball rather than a few years down the road and my development is haulted by it. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

TT: Coming back to the present, what are the things you need to focus on this year to make you and even better pitcher and put yourself in a position to help the big league club?

CC: I think I need to control my surroundings and improve my mental game. I want to focus on keeping the same confidence even if I've walked two guys in a row or something else not good happens. I need to pitch my game and control my game.

TT: Can you explain to our readers how you view yourself as a pitcher, both in terms of arsenal and approach?

CC: I view myself as a power pitcher. I try to make you time my fastball and once you prove you're on it, I make the adjustment to use my off speed stuff more. I have both a 2 seam and 4 seam fastball, change-up, and a curve ball. my curve ball is the main pitch i can get hitters out with and my change-up is just something to try to keep you off my fastball.

TT: Are there any players or coaches in the organization that you believe have really helped you develop as a person and a player?

CC: John Matlack has helped me out a great deal with my mechnics and my approach. He also helped out a great deal in developing my change-up more. My change-up was really bad out of high school but now I feel like it has potential to be a very important pitch for me. Greg Sabat helped me out a great deal to hold runners on and he helped me out a great deal with my pickoff move. And Mark Johnson, my pitching coach in West Michigan showed me how to read swings and study the hitters so you know their tendencies

TT: Wrapping things up here, I'd like to give you the chance for the last word in the interview. This is your chance to leave TigsTown's readers with a final thought and end the interview on your terms. The floor is yours….

CC: I just hope I can help the Detroit Tigers out in the near future on the hill and Tigers fans really are the best fans out of all of them. Thanks to all the support you guys give us on and off the field.

TigsTown would like to thank Casey for taking time away from his preparations for the 2010 season to talk with us. We look forward to seeing him build on his outstanding 2009 season, and even more so, we hope to see him on the mound in Detroit in the coming years!

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