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Crick relishes comparison with Cain, MadBum

Giants' top prospect gets chance to shine in SiriusXM Futures Game

NEW YORK -- Kyle Crick doesn't have to look past the Giants' organizational depth chart for a role model, an example and a standard to which he should aspire.

The comparisons with Matt Cain began almost immediately after San Francisco used the 49th overall selection in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft on Crick, a big, strong right-hander out of Sherman (Texas) High School.

And as he prepared to pitch in Sunday's SiriusXM Futures Game at Citi Field, he certainly didn't mind having his name mentioned in the same sentence as that of Cain or Madison Bumgarner, two high school hurlers who found themselves in the Giants' rotation before their 21st birthdays.

"I feel like [Cain is] the poster child for a lot of guys, especially young guys. Bum got there really early, too," said Crick, 20. "Those guys, the high school guys, they made it pretty quickly through the system. Those guys are the guys you look up to the most."

He followed in their footsteps again on Sunday, playing for the U.S. Team in the Futures Game, as Cain and Bumgarner once did.

Crick admitted he was "a little overly pumped" once he came out of the bullpen for the first save attempt of his life. Those jitters gave him some trouble finding a consistent release point, and he struggled a bit, throwing only five of his 15 pitches for strikes and walking two batters.

But he recorded one out, a flyout to the warning track by Miguel Sano, before giving way to A.J. Cole with two runners on. Cole wrapped up the game by retiring both batters he faced to record the save.

"I was trying to do a little bit too much," Crick said, "but I think I learned from it.

"It's an honor. I'm just glad the Giants let me do something like this, especially with these guys. This is some of the best talent in baseball right now. To be considered among the top [prospects] in the Minors right now, it's pretty crazy."

But it isn't crazy to think Crick could be next in the Cain-Bumgarner line. The Giants' No. 1 prospect is 1-1 with a 1.21 ERA through seven games with Class A Advanced San Jose.

He isn't exactly knocking on the door of the Majors just yet, as he lacks the usual polish that comes with more time and development in the Minors, but if he's looking for precedent, consider this: Cain jumped from San Jose to Double-A in 2004, spent some time with Triple-A Fresno in 2005 and made his Major League debut later that year.

Crick was joined at Citi Field on Sunday by fellow Giants prospect Jesus Galindo, a 22-year-old outfielder who's stolen 41 bases in 77 games during his second season with Class A Augusta. Playing for the World Team, Galindo entered the game in the bottom of the sixth, playing center field. He went 0-for-1 with a walk and hit a ground ball to second base for the game's final out.

Like Galindo, Crick is now playing his second year in a full-season league. He admitted that the increased workload has been the biggest adjustment, jumping from about 70 innings as a high schooler to 111 1/3 for Augusta last year. But he's handled it well, racking up 180 strikeouts while recording a 2.43 ERA over 148 innings in the Minors.

"I feel like I'm throwing well," Crick said. "I'm just going out there, not really worried."

And if there's an organization that's proven its ability to turn high-end high schoolers into frontline workhorses, it's the Giants. Look no further than Cain and Bumgarner -- or just ask Crick what San Francisco's coaches already have done for him.

"Just being consistent -- [pitching] in and out, getting ahead, with two of the first three pitches being strikes," he said. "I feel like they just helped me become a little bit more consistent with my game plan."

Adam Berry is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry.
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