Oh look: another left-handed bullpen arm with better stuff than Phil Coke!
21. Casey Crosby: 6'5", 225 lbs., LHP
Before we get started, let's take a look at Casey Crosby's medical history. That's always a fun game.
Thanks to Baseball Prospectus for this chart.
As you can see, Crosby has had some issues. I'll fill in the blank for this year: he was having arm trouble. So, Crosby has missed 2 1/2 minor league seasons out of six possible. That's bad.
Thanks to MLB Prospect Portal for the video.
Projected 2014 team: Triple-A Toledo/Detroit (MLB)
Casey Crosby was taken in the fifth round of the 2007 draft. He has absolutely wicked stuff, especially if he can stay on the field. A low-to-mid 90s fastball and a plus curveball. Good news, he has also been officially moved to the bullpen. It is nice when you get something right every once in awhile. I have been opining for Crosby to move to the pen for the better part of 18 months now, and I am glad the Tigers finally gave up on the dream for him to start. Realistically, he just could not stay healthy. It was not a good match.
Crosby is not that far away from contributing in the major league bullpen. In short bursts, his fastball should sit around 95 miles per hour with natural movement. His breaking ball is inconsistent but sharp, and features tight spin and depth. I bet he will scrap the changeup, as it never really developed into an average pitch. Crosby should keep it simple out of the pen, with a fastball/curveball repertoire. At the very least, he should dominate left-handers, and has the ultimate ceiling of a dominant late innings reliever.
Mechanically, Crosby is a mess. He sometimes rushes out of his load over the rubber, and that causes his arm to fall behind, which makes his release point inconsistent. After watching Crosby start in the majors in 2012, and some video from '13, it was fairly obvious that he was never going to consistently throw strikes. His walk rate speaks to that, and so does his overall performance. As a starter, it wasn't rare to see him at pitch 90 in the fourth inning.
Out of the bullpen however, I really don't mind the erratic nature. I'm not saying that I want him to come in there and walking people, but even if he's around the plate, especially to left-handed hitters, Crosby is going to succeed. Just for reference, left-handers hit .154/.323/.250 against him in '13, and I'd expect numbers in the same vicinity at the major league level.
In fact, if Crosby would have remained a starter, he wouldn't have made my top 30 list at all. I didn't believe in that idea whatsoever. Short bursts coming out of the bullpen should work better for his body type and mechanical profile. It's even possible that bullpen work may keep him healthier. Only time will tell. If he can stay on the field, expect Crosby to contribute to the major league team in '14 and beyond in the pen.