The Giants ditched their project of trying to turn Kyle Crick into a reliever and used him as a starter in all 23 of his appearances for Double-A Richmond last season. The former first-round pick has been generally considered a bust as he's failed to control his electric stuff in the minors, posting a rate of 5.1 BB/9 or higher in all six of his minor league seasons. With a strikeout rate of 7.1 K/9 in 2016 (well below his usual double-digit marks), it appeared that Crick was trying to dial back his pitches in an effort to limit the free passes, but that approach proved unsuccessful as he still issued 67 walks in 109 innings. Despite his continued failures, the righty will only be 24 years old to begin the 2017 season, and the Giants are hoping he can figure things out down the road.
Crick is symptom-free and has been reinstated from the disabled list after suffering a concussion earlier in April, Hank Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Crick was hit with a foul ball in the dugout, a freak accident. Thankfully, his symptoms subsided quickly, so he was able to get back in action after missing only a little more than a week. If he performs well upon his return, Crick will put himself in the conversation for a midseason call-up to join the Giants' bullpen.
Crick is being treated as a reliever by the Giants this spring, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The 2016 campaign was Crick's last chance as a starter, and he was awful, allowing a 5.04 ERA and 1.62 WHIP over 23 starts at the Double-A level. However, Crick has a chance to open the season in the Giants' bullpen if he can continue to impress in spring training. Even if he doesn't break camp with the major league squad, expect Crick to spend the 2017 campaign working in relief.
Crick has made three Cactus League appearances and has yet to allow a run in 3.2 innings of work. Crick has struck out three and walked two in those three appearances. The former first-round draft pick has largely been considered a bust, and the Giants are seeing if they can salvage any value from his arm while they still have him under team control. Speaking of control, Crick doesn't possess any. In his five full seasons as a minor leaguer, he hasn't had a BB/9 under five. There is no denying that he has electric stuff, but he won't stick in the majors if he is issuing free passes at the rate he has been. That being said, a strong spring training and improved control to start the year in the minors would go a long way in saving his sinking stock value.
Crick's woes continued in 2016, posting a career-worst 5.04 ERA in 109 innings with Double-A Richmond. The Giants tried moving Crick from reliever to starter again and they got the worst results of his young career. While he "dialed back" the walks to a mark of 5.53 BB/9, his strikeouts also took a major step in the reverse direction (7.10 K/9). The organization is obviously trying to tinker with their former top pitching prospect, but it appears to be all for naught. After three consecutive years at the Double-A level, it is time for Crick to show some sort of progression -- even if it comes as a reliever -- otherwise he may never get an opportunity to pitch in a major league game.
Crick will begin the 2016 season at Double-A. If he can iron out the long-standing control issues, Crick has a very good arm and could be an important piece in the Giants' bullpen. Last season at Richmond, he walked 66 batters in 63 innings, while fanning 73. Not surprisingly, he had a passable ERA (3.29) with an unsightly 1.79 WHIP. Crick first arrived at Double-A as a starter in 2014.
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