Before I start, you can find Kyle Crick's basic and advanced stats here.
Proper, sound mechanics has been a great indicator of a prospect's future control and command of his repertoire. For Crick's case however, even though with more than 3 years of seasoning in the minor leagues, him and the Giants still hasn't figured out the perfect mechanics for him to throw the baseball consistently and fully utilize his potential as a future ace. Below is a picture sequence of Crick's mechanics and the tinkering the Giants did on him. I am not a pitching coach to say that this fixes will really work but I want to point out here possible fixes on the issues that I see.
2011 (The year he was drafted. Full video here courtesy of MLB.com and I tried to get the best possible picture that I can get.)
2012 (Full video here. Credits to Mike Newman. Images are color adjusted to have better clarity.)
2013 (Full video here. Full credit to Giant Potential on this. Based from what I see from him, his mechanics is similar up to 2015.)
There's this video on MLB.com of the great Pedro Martinez about the proper mechanics and there's a great statement from Pedro that could be applied to Crick about landing closed. The statement from him starts at 1:37. (Full video here.)
"...once you land, you come from here, you want to keep all (of) this (pertaining to his glove arm) in line. And then you go, and you land in a 45 degree angle. Your cleats are designed to actually break the ground (to) keep you in line."
There's another video on MLB.com where Pedro Martinez talks about Carlos Martinez about him flying open too early and he suggest that he should be more closed to have him to have a higher release point and drive the ball more forward which is also applicable to Crick. (Full video here and I will say that Pedro has a potential to be a really great pitching coach.)
I can see some similarities of his pitching mechanics to the great Pedro Martinez when I ran their mechanics side to side. The main difference is that Pedro's height is 5'11" while Crick is 6'4" and as far as I know, taller guys are having more difficulties repeating their mechanics and Pedro is just a genetic wonder with the type of flexibility that most pitchers can only dream of. Even though Crick's athleticism is great and I love it, his mechanics is still something that he still needs to work on and improve.
Possible Mental Issues
There are some talk in the inner community of Giants fans about concerns regarding mental issues about Mr. Crick. Well, there's some pretty solid foundations on the concerns regarding Crick. I'll put my points about this issue like it's a mini-debate with two sides. I'll use the letters H for the hopeful side and P for the pessimistic side.
P: Kyle Crick has been playing in the Giants minor league system since 2011.
H: There are variables to consider like Crick's has just picked up full-time pitching in his senior year in HS so he's lacking in the pitchability and the overall experience portion.
P: But he's been playing like a bust and I am sure Dick Tidrow has helped the kid.
H: Look at the #5 overall pick at that draft, Bubba Starling of the Royals. Great 5-tool potential but is really raw. Posting awful numbers until breaking out this year. Give him time.
P: But Crick's numbers has been worse this year! His K/9 are below 9 and his BB/9 is more than 7! There's something more than his mechanics at this point!
H: You're right. Okay, I'm joining your side.
I read an article about Crick spent time with Michael Wacha of the Cardinals and Shelby Miller of the Braves in the offseason, and here are some of the words that caught my attention. (Full article here written by Andrew Baggarly.)
"I believe last year was the first actual bump in the road for me in my minor league career," Crick said. "It was more of a mentality thing, not trusting myself. I was just trying to do too much with my mechanics and not just throwing the ball. This offseason I got to a better mental state about baseball."
So, what have we learned from the mini-debate and the article? Let's fast forward it to today. Michael Wacha is the ace of the Cardinals now that Adam Wainwright is out of the year, Shelby Miller is the undisputed ace of the Braves and one of the best pitchers in the NL, and Kyle Crick is doing worse in the Eastern League. I ever wonder if Crick really picked up something from the two because if he ever picked up something from the two, he'll be performing much better this year than what he really is performing. I think that he got no confidence in his mechanics and his body at this point. I am not a psychologist to know what Crick is into right now but as a fan, I can see from his stats that he's not okay. He's never fallen below 5 in his BB/9 which is surprising given that he got one of the best pitching instructors in the game in Dick Tidrow. If there's a way to improve his command by tweaking his mechanics, I am pretty sure he'll pick it up right now if he believes in Tidrow but he stayed with pretty much the same mechanics like before. Is he a stubborn person in nature? I don't know. Maybe. I'll never point fingers until it is proven that it's true. Slowly but surely, Crick's mental issues are starting to turn into a fact in my perspective.
Possible Move To The Bullpen
So if Crick's mental issues are starting to get really legit, maybe a fresh start is needed to kickstart his career once again. Enter, the bullpen. Yes. The bullpen. More and more scouts are starting to say that he's not a starter material anymore but a bullpen material. I really do think since 2014 that he's not a starter material anymore but a shutdown bullpen guy for the future Giants. In the bullpen, in my opinion, if you got a mid-90s fastball that you can locate and you got a plus breaking pitch, you're have a chance to be a shutdown reliever or even an elite closer. There are a lot of failed starters that are littered in the bullpen and are really thriving in that spot. Let's take a look at a couple.
Let's start with player A: He is a back-end starter included in a blockbuster deal together with an ace for a top-5 prospect who ended up as the AL ROY in 2013. That's right. He's Wade Davis. Let's take a look at Wade Davis' transformation based on his stats courtesy of FanGraphs.
2013: 31G 24GS 135.1 IP 5.32 ERA 4.18 FIP 4.15 xFIP 1.68 WHIP 7.58 K/9 3.86 BB/9 .304 AVG .361 BABIP 67.6 LOB% 40.5 GB% 1.4 WAR
Here's a Brooks Baseball profile of Crick that tracks velocities, vertical and horizontal movements, pitch types, and more though this numbers is from 2013.
Imagine a lineup of bullpen guys with Okert, Osich, Broadway, Strickland with Crick leading the way as the closer or as the setup guy for Strickland. Even though only Broadway and Strickland are on the Major League club right now, age of the bullpen will make us promote these guys sooner than later given that they develop nicely. I know you can build a bullpen out of scrap heap, but the Giants are living on continuity and the Core Four of the bullpen are great examples of that and we have the pieces to replace them soon.
TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)
Mechanics issues (leg kick needs to be lowered, left foot during the drive needs to be toned down for more control and possible north-south finish or he needs to land closed to prevent his left shoulder and leg to leak out too early), mental issues (lack of confidence, frustrations, possible stubborness), possible shifting to being a reliever which could be a positive turnaround to his career proven by Wade Davis and Dellin Betances' success stories.
The Bottom Line
This all started as a comment on DrB's blog about my rants on Kyle Crick about his mechanics issues and his poor release point, that he's spinning and having a poor follow through and that video analysis. Well it's not a video analysis but I think it will do to justify my points. This also started on Mr. ogc's on about Crick as a reliever possibility and I expanded it here on this post and my inspiration for the format of this blog post comes from him. Again, I am not a pitching coach to conclude that my suggestions regarding his mechanics are a sure-fire success and I am not a psychologist to say that he got a mental disorder. I am basing it on the observations that I see on Kyle over the past 3 years and these are all my opinions. I still have hope for the guy and he's just 22. There's still a lot of guys that improved and contribute greatly yet they'll older than Crick and for him, age is still his friend but time is slowly running out for the guy to reach his ace potential. It's becoming more of a reality that his ceiling is just a high-end reliever if he can't reduce his walk numbers which is still pretty great of value especially from a guy picked high in the draft. If he could contribute in a big way for the Giants in the future, I will consider him as a development success. I hope you enjoyed my analysis. Cheers!