By Jason Shetler
After being chosen as a sandwich pick (49th overall) by the San Francisco Giants in the 2011 MLB Draft, Kyle Crick received plenty of minor league accolades. In 2013, Baseball America rated Crick the top prospect in the Giants system, while MLB.com listed him as a Top 100 prospect overall. That same year, he was the Giants representative in the MLB Futures Game.
Despite receiving those honors, Crick struggled as a starter in 2016, and was moved to the bullpen. He arrived to the Majors last year, posting a 3.06 ERA and 3.90 FIP in 30 appearances out of the Giants bullpen. Crick’s average fastball velocity sat at 95.5 mph, which was fourth highest among National League rookie relievers in 2017.
On January 15th, Crick and outfield prospect Bryan Reynolds were dealt to the Pirates in the Andrew McCutchen trade. The expected occurred, as the anger of trading Cutch led to some fans wanting to boycott the team, while also completely dismissing the acquisitions of both Crick and Reynolds.
The Pirates entered Spring Training with a few open spots in the bullpen, with Crick presumably having the inside track for one of those. As it turned out however, he had a less than stellar showing, and didn’t make the Opening Day roster, which got fans to sour on the Cutch deal even more.
Crick began the year with AAA Indianapolis. He was called up to Pittsburgh on April 13th. The Pirates bullpen has certainly had their fair share of inconsistencies this season, mainly having younger, inexperienced arms. While Tyler Glasnow and Richard Rodriguez have been pleasant surprises, Crick has provided solid work as well. In 37 appearances to this point, he’s put up a 2.04 ERA, along with a FIP of 2.83. Crick is throwing the four-seam fastball harder this year at 96.3 mph. He’s also added a power sinker, averaging 96.7 mph, and his slider has been a plus offering. The Pirates were looking for someone to pitch in the setup role, this after the struggles of George Kontos. They tried using Michael Feliz, but he wasn’t able to respond. Crick has now taken over in that role, and is really excelling, holding opponents to just a .472 OPS against in high leverage situations. For a reliever who was viewed as an afterthought after joining the Pirates, Crick has given the backend of the bullpen much needed stability.