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. Widely considered one of the top prep arms, Crosby fell in the draft due to signability concerns. The Tigers were willing to take a chance though, and they eventually signed him for nearly $750,000.
Over the next four years, Crosby would endure a string of unfortunate setbacks stemming from his Tommy John surgery that occurred shortly after he was drafted. Simply put, the even years have been a bit of a thorn in Crosby’s side.
Beyond the setbacks lies one of the most exciting arms in Minor League Baseball though. The 6’5″ southpaw is armed with a mid-90s fastball that has the ability to reach the upper-90s in short bursts. His curveball has plus potential and his change-up has made great strides.
Adding another dimension to his game, Crosby pitched out of the bullpen last fall in the Arizona Fall League. The results, 2-0 with a 1.32 ERA and 13 strikeouts over 13 2/3 innings.
Now 23-years-old, the 2009 Detroit Tigers Minor League Pitcher of the Year Award recipient enters his fourth spring training looking to crack the Tigers opening day 25-man roster.
This week, Crosby was kind enough to sit down and participate in a Q&A session with us.
MCB: Who has had the biggest influence on your baseball career?
Casey Crosby: Definitely my brothers Pat and Kelly. They’re both older than me by at least 8 years and they played ball with me all the time. We played a lot of wiffle ball too.
MCB: From what I’ve heard, you were a helluva football player in High School too. Did you ever consider following that path?
CC: I thought about what it could be like if I did many times. I love playing football and i miss it a lot. But I never seriously considered doing it. I know my future in baseball is much better than what I might be able to do in football.
MCB: At what point in your life do you remember deciding that professional baseball was something that you wanted to pursue?
CC: There’s a video of my when i was about 4 years old. In it, my sister Katie was interviewing me and in it, she asked what I want to be when i grown up. I said I wanted to be a baseball player, so it was some time before that.
MCB: The Tigers drafted you in the 5th round of the 2007 MLB First-Year Player Draft. Forgoing a scholarship to the University of Illinois, you later signed with the Tigers. What was draft day like for you? How difficult was it for you to make that life changing decision as an 18-year-old?
CC: It was a crazy day. It was a roller coaster ride of ups and downs. I was getting advice from a lot of people that day, but all I did was listen to myself and what I wanted to do. In the end it worked out and I’m in a world class organization.
MCB: Do you ever regret missing out on the whole college experience?
CC: Not really. I feel like my first couple years of pro ball were like my college experience. Being away from home for the first time, having fun with buddies. I just missed out on class and I’m ok with that [laughs]. Also, I got to visit some of my friends during the off-season.
MCB: Almost immediately after signing you had to undergo Tommy John surgery. How bad was the surgery and rehab process? How taxing is the mental aspect of injuries in general?
CC: The rehab process was long, and repetitive. I knew from the get go that I was going to benefit from it and that’s what I kept thinking about. It’s all about staying positive and focused on getting better better. If you do that, it makes it a lot better. I got lucky and recovered well from it.
MCB: You really put yourself on the map after the 2009 season. Ten wins, a shiny 2.41 ERA, 10.1 K/9, All-Star, heck you were even tabbed the Tigers Minor League Pitcher of the Year. Which accolade or statistic were you most proud of and why?
CC: I would have to say the amount of innings i pitched. I was happy to get over 100 innings that year and when you’re a starter, you want to be an inning eater. But I was really happy when I got to 10 wins, also.
MCB: I’m not going to beat the injury drum to death but the even years haven’t been very kind to you. Is this something that’s in the back of your mind?
CC: There’s no question I have had my fair share of time on the shelf. You can’t have the fear of injury in your head while your out there because if you do, you wont perform as well. You just need to prepare yourself and trust your preparation.
MCB: I hate to even bring up the word bullpen because I see you as a very successful starter in the show. Regardless, I have to ask. You had tremendous success out of the ‘pen in the AFL and your repertoire is perfect for a late inning relief role. What are your thoughts on potentially moving to the ‘pen?
CC: I was uncertain how I would feel coming out of the pen out there. But a couple weeks into it, I got used to it and grew to really like it. If they want me to move to the pen, I know I can handle it. The main thing is getting guys out, wherever you pitch.
MCB: You’re a serious option for the fifth spot in the rotation this season. How has this effected your approach this spring? How do you think your stuff translates right now at the pro level?
CC: I worked extra hard this off-season, physically and also mentally. My stuff translates very well. My main thing is remaining consistent with my delivery in order to throw strikes consistently. I am very pleased with my change up this spring so far.
MCB: Obviously as the levels increase, things like command and control become paramount. I’ve read before that lowering the walks is a priority of yours. What other parts of your game do you feel need attention? Also, what steps are you taking to address the issues this season?
CC: One thing I want to do is throw all of my pitches at any time for a strike. If I can do that, it adds a lot of second guessing and confusion to the hitters. If I can throw a good 2-0 change, it limits a lot of damage.
MCB: What personal goals do you have for yourself this season?
CC: My main one is to get to Detroit and be productive there. Another one would be to make every one of my starts.
MCB: What’s a typical game day like for you when you’re pitching? Do you have any pre-game rituals?
CC: One thing I do is if I threw well the start before, I’ll wear the same outfit to the field the next start. Another thing I do is I take a nice long shower before my starts to get my body warm and loose.
MCB: What are some of the things away from the game that you like to do for fun?
CC: People that know me know I can quote a lot of movie lines. I like watching movies, and I love to play pool. I play it every chance I get.
MCB: Who were some of your favorite baseball players growing up? Did you model your game after any of your favorite players?
CC: I loved watching Ken Griffey Jr. and Omar Vizquel. I was a left handed short stop until i was 13, and some of the plays Vizquel made were sick!
MCB: Outside of baseball do you follow any sports?
CC: Of course I do. Football, Basketball, Hockey, you name it. Obviously I love the Bears, Bulls, Blackhawks being from the Chicago area.
MCB: What are five songs or albums that you’re currently listening to on your iPod? Anything that might get your man card revoked?
CC: Jason Aldean-Days Like These, Drake-Makes Me Proud, Lady Antebellum-We Owned the Night, Jay-Z and Kanye West– Ni**as in Paris, Lee Brice– A Woman Like You. Maybe that last one would get my card revoked but it’s a great song!
MCB: What’s your all-time favorite baseball movie?
CC: Major League 1 and 2. They’re hilarious.
A special thanks goes out to Casey Crosby for taking the time out of his day to answer our questions. If you’re not already doing so, be sure to follow him on Twitter @caseycrosby2
For more MCB interviews with Detroit Tigers Prospects, click here.