Profile: LHP - 6'5" - 200lbs - BT:R - TH:L - 2011 Age: 22
• FB4 93-95: He's been clocked as high as 97-98 but works at 94. (55-65)
• FB2 91-93: He doesn't command the two-seamer as well as the four-seamer, but it's got plus sink. (50-65)
• SL 85-87: Can get loopy at times, but has plus rotation. (45-60)
• CH 84-85: Still developing, should be solid/average. (40-50)
A fifth round pick in the 2007 draft who feel on signability concerns, the Tigers moved aggressively to add the prep talent with a power fastball from the left side for a way over-slot $750,000. As Crosby discussed during his recent interview with Central in Focus, the negotiations went down to the wire and he didn't sign until right before the deadline. As a result, he didn't pitch at all during the 2007 season, and then tore a ligament in his pitching elbow and had to undergo Tommy John surgery.
The surgery would cost him most of the 2008 season, though he did manage to get into a few games at the end of the season, throwing a total of 4.2 innings. In 2009 however he finally got the opportunity to show off his impressive stuff and didn't disappoint, posting strong post-surgery numbers and displaying all the velocity he had pre-surgery. He suffered another set back in 2010 with persistent elbow pain, though tests didn't reveal any damage. He was shut down for most of the year. One thing I'd like to see is a bit cleaner follow through. He has a tendency to land on a stiff front leg and spin off.
Crosby works from a high 3/4 slot that allows him to use his 6'5" frame to pitch downhill. When he keeps his pitches down, they really move and the plane is very deceptive for hitters. He commands his four seam fastball better than his two seamer, though both have good late life and with repetition, I think his delivery is clean enough that his command of both will sharpen up. That of course has been Crosby's issue, staying healthy enough to get the reps needed to progress.
Crosby also features a slider that has been confused with a curveball, though in the interview from yesterday, he confirmed that it is indeed a slider. The pitch shows good tight rotation and downward break. It's an effective pitch against left-handed batters, and with work should also be able to get under the bats of righties as well. He also has a developing changeup that could be good but like all his pitches, needs reps to build the feel that a good changeup requires and the ability to command it consistently.
In 2009 we saw what a mostly healthy - if still pretty rusty - Crosby could do as he mowed down A ball hitters with his fastball/slider combination, either getting them to swing and miss or beat the ball into the ground. Unfortunately, that's the only time we've actually gotten to see him for more than 12 innings in any given season but the ability to miss bats, combined with good ground ball rates makes him a very attractive player.
Having lost most or all of three seasons to pitch, Crosby will now be a 22 year old who will be back in High A trying to get the reps necessary to sharpen his off speed deliveries and his command to the point where they can be effective pitches in the higher levels of the minors, and into the Majors.
He has shown some issues with control, and while that usually makes me pretty skeptical about a pitchers likelihood of sticking a starter in the Majors, I think Crosby will conquer those issues with work. His ground ball rate will likely drop off somewhat as he climbs the ladder, but he's got plenty of room for growth in his stuff and command. I don't think he has the ace potential some do, but he's still got plus projectability in most areas and I think he'll be a solid #2.
And let's face it, if you can't pull for a guy who will do this, then who can you pull for?
Corey Ettinger is a Senior Writer for Baseball Digest as well as a proud contributor to both 612Sports.net, 312Sports.com, and 313sports.com. He also provides extensive analysis of the American League Central Division at his own blog, AL Central In Focus. Be sure to follow me on Twitter @Coreyettinger for the latest updates, random thoughts and general tomfoolery.