Prospect Report: Aaron Crow

At 23-years old, if you knew nothing about the path Aaron Crow took after entering the 2008 draft you would probably just assume that he’d already be making an impact in the Major Leagues.  Armed with a fastball that can touch the mid-90s, as well as a slider (which called his best pitch) and changeup, that would’ve been a fair assessment after he was selected ninth overall by the Washington Nationals.

That’s not how things played out, however.  Coming off a junior season at Missouri that saw him dominate, going 13-0 with a 2.35 ERA and 127 Ks, he was regarded as one of the top two college pitchers entering the draft (along with Brian Matusz).  The team and Crow’s representatives failed to come to an agreement, however, leaving Crow to spend the year pitching for the Fort Worth Cats of the Independent League.

While he didn’t make many starts for the team, he was dominant when he did take the mound.  In three starts (17 innings), he went 3-0 with a 1.06 ERA and 17 Ks.  Additionally, he allowed very few baserunners, allowing 11 hits and 5 walks.

He reentered the draft in 2009, once again going in the first round.  The Nationals actually had a chance to redraft him (at #10, but they instead took Drew Storen), leaving Crow to drop to the Kansas City Royals at #12, who gladly scooped him up.

He didn’t make an appearance in the Royals minor league system, but got a chance to show his value in the Arizona Fall League.  He has not been lights out, going 0-2 with a 5.87 ERA over 15.1 innings, but there have been a few positives to point out.

While his control is a concern for some, he has walked just two batters.  In addition, he ended his time in the AFL by tossing four brilliant, shutout innings.  During that start he allowed one hit and no walks, striking out four in the process.

Crowe said he was up in the zone in his first few starts, which led to his problems.  He was quoted as saying, “Being out there and being on a scheduled routine and facing hitters every [start] and every week and focusing on keeping the ball down, it’s been a lot easier to do when you’re in a routine”.

We all know that the Royals are a team that is constantly looking for pitching help and it is possible that Crow could be on the fast track in 2009.  While he may start the year in Single or Double-A, depending on how much of a challenge the Royals want to give him, it would not be surprising to see him get a start or two in the majors at some point.

Of course, a potential innings limit could affect him, having barely pitched against professional hitters in 2009.  He had just 15 starts in his junior year and between the Independent League and AFL, has just 32.1 innings under his belt.

While the team is said to be willing to be very active in the trade front (which they already have been when they sent Mark Teahen to the White Sox for Josh Fields & Chris Getz), at this point their rotation appears to be a black hole behind Zack Greinke.  Yes, Robinson Tejeda showed potential and there is still hope for Luke Hochevar, but they need all the help they can get.

While yearly league owners would be smart to keep an eye on him, yet not take the gamble quite yet, he is a must own for all dynasty leaguers.  While a 2010 appearance may only be a cameo, he’s ticketed to be a mainstay for the Royals as soon as 2011.

What are your thoughts on Crowe?  How good can he be?  When will he make his Major League debut?

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