The Detroit Tigers Minor League affiliates seasons are officially in the books and the off-season is in full swing. With another season completed, the time has come for John Verburg and I to announce our 2012 MCB Detroit Tigers Top 50 Prospects List. Over the last month John and I have combined our lists to form a final product for our readers. Each players production, ceiling, floor and positional value ultimately determined their overall ranking. The finalized prospect list will be rolled out five at a time on my end covering each players background and a description on why they’re ranked that high and/or low. John will follow with a more detailed scouting report on each of the prospects.
Be sure to check back frequently and join the discussion as we work our way through the 2012 MCB Detroit Tigers Top 50 Prospects List.
2012 MCB Detroit Tigers Top 50 Prospects: #5 Casey Crosby
#5 Casey Crosby
Position: Left-handed Pitcher
Height: 6′ 5″
2011 TEAM: AA-Erie SeaWolves
2011 STATS: 131 2/3 IP 9-7 4.10 ERA 1.51 WHIP 8.3 H/9 5.3 BB/9 8.3 K/9 0.8 HR/9
2012 Projected Team: AAA-Toledo
The Detroit Tigers selected Casey Crosby in the fifth round of the 2007 MLB First-Year Player Draft out of Kaneland High School in Illinois. Crosby fell in the draft due to signability concerns. The Tigers were willing to take a chance though and they eventually signed him for a reported $748,500. Crosby missed the entire 2008 season due to Tommy John surgery that occurred shortly after the draft.
In 2009–his only completely injury-free season-–Crosby posted a 2.41 ERA in 24 starts, while averaging better than a strikeout per inning for the West Michigan White Caps. His performance that season earned him the Detroit Tigers Minor League Pitcher of the Year Award.
In 2010, Crosby found himself on the shelf again though. This time it was initially with elbow soreness in his left arm. Unfortunately, he managed to log just 12 1/3 innings over three rehab starts in the GCL later that season, before ultimately being shut down. The diagnosis was later announced to be a bone injury in his throwing arm. At this point, the southpaw had been labeled as high as number two in the Tigers prospect rankings. However, his rather lengthy injury history had both fans and scouts a bit skeptical.
Despite entering the 2011 season just 22-years-old, Crosby skipped Advanced-A Lakeland and pitched for the AA-Erie SeaWolves last season. Despite mediocre statistics at first glance, the aggressive move yielded positive results overall. Diving inside the numbers, Crosby logged a career high 131 2/3 innings last season. He also continued to strikeout nearly a batter per inning. Unfortunately Crosby surrendered nearly a hit per inning and issued 5 walks per nine. Regardless, it was encouraging to see the top prospect more than holding his own in hitter-friendly Jerry Uht Park.
Crosby’s big 6′ 5″ frame features all the ingredients that you’d like to see in a pitcher capable of eating innings. He’s athletic, strong and takes good care of his body. Similar to others his size, he occasionally struggles repeating his mechanics. Nothing appears to be to serious or uncorrectable though.
His bread and butter is his plus-plus fastball that has registered in the upper-90s in the past. You’ll see the pitch live in the low-to-mid 90s the majority of the time now though. Despite the injuries, it still remains one of the top fastballs in the system.
His curveball is noted as a potential plus-offering. It generates a fair amount of swing and misses and sits in the low-80s.
His repertoire is rounded out with a change-up that was at one point more of a “show me” offering. He’s worked at it though and our own John Verburg believes it has potential to be a solid offering.
Why He’s This High/Low:
His raw talent and high ceiling easily puts Crosby in our top five. Lefty starters with plus-plus fastballs don’t necessarily grow on trees. His ability to miss bats will also continue to make you overlook the walks a bit. However, moving forward Crosby must sharpen the control and command of his entire arsenal. As the levels advance it will become very difficult for Crosby to continue getting by if he’s walking nearly 5 batters per game.
Another obvious observation would be staying healthy. As amazing as his stuff is, his attitude, work ethic and determination just might trump his amazing skill-set. Crosby has already overcome quite a bit in his short time as a pro. It’s been unfortunate to watch him hit the DL as much as he has. Watching him overcome all these obstacles has shown me a lot about his character though.
As big as last season was for Crosby, I believe that 2012 will be his biggest test yet. Crosby has yet to put together back-to-back injury free seasons. Next season he will have to stay healthy, limit walks, eat innings and post solid numbers. If he fails to do so, I believe that organization might move him to the ‘pen where his stuff might flourish more in short bursts.