With the increased emphasis on drafting highly touted pitchers, teams in this year’s MLB Draft will be looking to stock up their farms with the best pitching prospects available. One of those pitching prospects expected to go in the first round is left-handed pitcher Garrett Crochet.
Crochet, out of the University of Tennessee, comes into the draft as one of the most highly regarded pitchers in the field. As a result, he has received an abundance of attention from front offices, scouts, and media. He is currently listed as the 18th-best prospect according to MLB.com and is projected to be a top-15 pick by most Mock Drafts. Crochet has the chance to surpass R.A. Dickey (18th overall, 1996) as the highest-drafted Volunteers pitcher ever.
Crochet was initially drafted in the 34th round of the 2017 MLB Draft by the Milwaukee Brewers but chose to improve his draft stock by going to college. This decision proved to be the right one as he opened some eyes after putting together a solid sophomore season in 2019 (5-3, 4.02 ERA, 81 strikeouts, 65 innings pitched). As a result of his success, he was a named a 2020 Baseball America Preseason First Team All-American. Unfortunately, because of an early spring injury and the college baseball season getting canceled due to COVID-19, Crochet was only able to make one start in 2020.
Perhaps the characteristic that stands out the most with Crochet is his size. The Mississippi native comes into the draft with a solid frame, being listed at 6-foot-6 and weighing in at 218 lbs. This stout frame allows him to hide the ball and create a difficult angle on his breaking pitches. For a pitcher of his size, he is extremely athletic and does an excellent job of “keeping his long levers in sync and providing strikes.”
The headliner pitch for Crochet is his overpowering four-seam fastball that sits in the high-90s. However, this pitch isn’t just speedy, as he can spin his fastball at near-elite spin rates. He also has great command of this pitch to his gloveside. This will come in handy throughout his professional career, especially when facing right-handed hitters.
Scouts were impressed with his fastball this fall. https://t.co/9VBOXfZaLX pic.twitter.com/xGezqvWMCz However, he. As a result, he. However, he did. Also, he did. He did. Good. He. He also. Also, He. Yes, he did. Ok.
— Baseball America (@BaseballAmerica) November 18, 2019
His arsenal also consists of an 82-85 mph slider that “features above-average spin rates” and an “above-average changeup” that he throws “around 90 mph with deceptive arm speed.” With this exceptional velocity and movement, scouts believe he has the potential to be a number one starter in the majors.
One question with Crochet is the severity of his recent shoulder/back issue that sidelined him before the shutdown. After all, shoulder soreness is usually a significant concern when teams are evaluating pitchers. However, if these questions about the injury are answered, he could be selected even earlier than previously predicted.
Another problem is the “lack of sustained high level performance” from Crochet. Due to various injuries over his career and the cancellation of the 2020 season, he only made 36 appearances and 13 starts over three years in Knoxville. Although there’s no questioning his “stuff,” Crochet still has a lot to prove.
A good comparison for Crochet is Boston Red Sox pitcher Chris Sale. Both pitchers stand tall at 6’6″ and feature a fastball, slider, and changeup. Just like Crochet, Sale gets a high number of swing and misses on his fastball, and his slider sweeps across the zone before dropping to his gloveside. Another similarity between these two is their funky pitching delivery. While Sale’s delivery is a bit more exaggerated, Crochet includes the big leg kick and pushes off from the third base side of the rubber.
It’s impossible to know if Crochet will develop into a star of Sale’s caliber, but one thing is certain, he has the potential to be an ace for whichever team that selects him in June.
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