Former Virginia pitcher Kyle Crockett only has one scoreless inning on his professional pitching resume. But the executive editor of Baseball America wouldn't be surprised if Crockett's stay in the Cleveland Indians' minor league system is a short one.
"If they keep him in the bullpen, he could fly through the minors," Jim Callis said via email this week. "Cleveland isn't afraid to aggressively push relievers, and Crockett is a lefty with two solid pitches he can put anywhere he wants."
"Maybe he makes the big leagues by the end of 2014 or early in 2015."
The Indians used their fourth round pick in last month's major league draft on Crockett, who signed following his junior year at UVa. Crockett made his pro debut last Sunday for the Mahoning Valley Scrappers, hitting one batter and notching one strikeout in a hitless inning out of the bullpen.
Crockett was a relief pitcher for most of his college career, starting just three games in his three seasons at UVa. He spent 2013 as the Cavaliers' closer, going 4-1 with a 1.70 ERA and 12 saves in 29 relief appearances.
Callis concedes that Crockett's future is also probably in the bullpen. But he thinks the left-hander could be a big league success as a starter.
"His ceiling could be as a No. 4 or 5 starter. He'd probably lose a little velocity off of his velocity, making it fringy, but he has a solid slider and plus command," Callis wrote. "More likely, he'd be a seventh-inning reliever. I think he's more than a specialist."
Crockett threw 58.1 innings for UVa this season, striking out 71 while walking just seven. Callis says those stats explain what makes Crockett a viable big league prospect.
"I think the first thing that jumps out is his control and command," Callis said. "As I mentioned before, he's lefthanded and has two solid pitches. Add that to the ability to locate them, and it's a nice package."
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