Could Crawford become the third flamethrower in the Giants' bullpen?

May 25th, 2024

This story was excerpted from Maria Guardado’s Giants Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

The Giants’ bullpen already features a pair of flamethrowers in closer Camilo Doval and electric rookie Randy Rodríguez. By the end of the season, they could have a third.

President of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said left-hander , the Giants’ 2022 first-round Draft pick and No. 8 prospect per MLB Pipeline, could reach the Majors this year following his recent promotion to Triple-A Sacramento.

Crawford, 23, racked up 19 strikeouts over 9 2/3 innings at Double-A Richmond before being moved up a level, as the Giants wanted to challenge him to use his full arsenal and not simply overpower hitters with his upper-90s fastball.

“Not to trivialize the competition, but he’d just throw his fastball by guys in Double-A,” Zaidi said last week. “It didn’t seem to be the best learning environment for him to throw his offspeed pitches and learn some of the nuances of pitching that we wanted to see when he could just rear back and throw 99 [mph] past guys. Triple-A will be more of a test for him.”

The 6-foot-4, 235-pound Crawford seems to be handling the jump well thus far, as he entered Saturday having allowed only one run on two hits over 3 1/3 innings (2.70 ERA) in his first three appearances for Sacramento.

The Giants haven’t ruled out giving Crawford a chance to pitch out of the rotation in the future, but they’ve been careful with his workload ever since he completed his rehab from Tommy John surgery last year. He’s never gone longer than two innings in any of his 23 career pitching appearances in the Minors, and the Giants plan to keep capping him at two-inning stints every four days as they try to prepare him for a possible relief role this year.

“He’s only got so many innings this year, realistically, even though long term we still think there's starter potential," Zaidi said. "I think it's possible he pitches for us here this year at the big league level. For him to be able to do that, we need him to be able to come back -- forget about a back to back, but even on just one day of rest. He has never done those things. Rather than stretch him out, I think our schedule and our plan is going to be more to get him pitching in more typical intervals for a reliever and see if he can handle it.”

Here’s a roundup of other notable performances from the Giants’ four full-season Minor League affiliates:

Triple-A Sacramento
Utility man has been on a tear since being optioned to Sacramento on Monday, batting .563 (9-for-16) with five home runs and 10 RBIs in his first four games back with the River Cats.

Double-A Richmond
Right-hander (Giants’ No. 6 prospect) struck out seven over five innings of two-run ball in his last start for the Flying Squirrels on Wednesday, giving him a 2.29 ERA through eight outings this year.

High-A Eugene
Outfielder , who was acquired from the Pirates in exchange for right-hander Daulton Jefferies on May 10, seems to be benefiting from the change in scenery, as he’s batting .318 with a .922 OPS and three home runs in his first 11 games with the Emeralds.

Single-A San Jose
Outfielder (No. 28) has reached base in 23 consecutive games, batting .396 with a .993 OPS, six extra-base hits, 15 RBIs and 18 stolen bases over that span. First baseman (No. 3) also entered Saturday riding a 14-game hitting streak that was highlighted by his first career grand slam on May 18.