Who: Aaron J. Crow
DOB: 11/11/1986, Topeka, Kansas
Weight: 190 lb
Acquired: 2009 Draft – 1st round
~ Baseball America: #9
~ Royals Prospects: #10
~ Royals Review #10
~ Kevin Goldstein: #16
~ John Sickels: #14 C+
~ Kings of Kauffman 2010 Rankings: #4
|Ind (2 seasons)||Ind||3||0||1.00||3||18.0||5||17||0.944||6.0||0.0||2.5||8.5||3.40|
|AA (1 season)||AA||7||7||5.66||22||119.1||59||90||1.584||9.8||1.0||4.4||6.8||1.53|
|A+ (1 season)||A+||2||3||5.93||7||44.0||6||53||1.295||10.4||1.2||1.2||10.8||8.83|
The Royals found themselves experiencing deja vu in 2009. Three years prior, they’d selected Luke Hochevar in the first round. Hochevar notably passed up signing with the Dodgers in 2005 after they drafted him 40th overall after three years at the University of Tennessee. He pitched 22.2 innings for Fort Worth of the Independent League until the Royals selected him first overall in 2006.
Crow, another tall pitcher out of college (University of Missouri) had been selected 9th overall by the Nationals in 2008 but wouldn’t sign for a $3.5 million bonus. Like Hochevar, he pitched for Fort Worth between drafts and when the Royals came calling at 12th overall, he signed for $3 million.
The Royals drafted Crow with the idea that his stuff would give him a shot at the majors in 2010. Instead, he went the opposite direction, struggling with command and suffering from pedestrian strikeout numbers and a high walkrate. Double A batters lit him up to the tune of a 5.66 ERA and got him demoted to High A Wilmington. While 2010 first rounder Chris Sale was making his major league debut for the White Sox, Crow was floundering.
If there’s a silver lining, he turned things around after the demotion, at least going off of his peripherals. He walked just 1.2 batters per nine innings in seven starts and struck out 10.8 batters per nine. He got hit harder than in Double A though, and despite the 1.295 WHIP and 8.83 K/BB ratio, he put up a 5.93 ERA for the Blue Rocks.
Crow’s issues are with command and control. His mechanics are repeatedly reported as messy and exhibiting poor timing.
If Crow can get the mechanics ironed out, he’ll be able to take advantage of his legitimate major league repertoire. His fastball was hitting 96 mph with life and his slider was reported as sharp in a 2008 report prior to the draft. His slider could be his best pitch, but he didn’t get as many opportunities to use it due to poor command. When he’s on, his fastball has nice sink to it, and he carried a 2.29/1 ground out to air out ratio in the minors. Combining a high groundball rate with a high strikeout rate is a good recipe for a strong major league starter, and with those peripheral numbers and his electric stuff, his ceiling remains as high as any arm in the Royals system.
The same report mentioned a wrist flop in his delivery. The Royals don’t seem to be concerned according to Baseball America’s capsule in their 2011 Prospect Handbook, but you can see it in video of him pitching.
That wrist wrap may interfere with his release point or it could tip off the pitch often enough that he’s both wild and hittable. That’s a bad combination.
Crow was drafted with the intent to use him as a starter and he’ll have that opportunity again this season, most likely back in Double A. There have been mentions of him as a potential bullpen candidate or an outside contender for a rotation spot with Kansas City, but he’d have to have impeccable control in spring training for either of those to be realistic options.
Still, Hochevar made it to the big leagues 13 months after signing. Crow hasn’t even made it to Omaha after signing late and taking his trip to Wilmington. There’s still a good chance that, if his command and mechanics get under control, he’ll make his major league debut this season. Once he reaches Kansas City, they may use him as a starter or a late-inning reliever. He has the frame to pitch late into games and can maintain his velocity, but he can’t keep walking a batter every other inning to stay in a rotation.
Another fun story – Crow grew up in Topeka, 25 minutes or so from Lawrence (where I reside). A friend of mine went to middle and high school with Crow and told me that for a semester in seventh grade, other kids gave him the nickname “Tony Hawk” after he’d hurt himself in a skateboarding accident. Crow is also rumored to be dating pop star Ke$ha. I’d say the first claim is more accurate than the second, but if Crow’s reading, my advice is to stay off the skate ramps and stay away from the awful singers.
More importantly, get that delivery fixed up. Kansas City’s waiting. Tik Tok…
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