Hans Crouse is Hans Crouse. That much will never be debated.The lanky 6-foot-5 right-handed pitcher from Dana Hills (Calif.) High School is unapologetically himself, from occasionally animated antics on the mound to the fastball that has reached the upper 90s and could very well get him selected in the high
Hans Crouse is Hans Crouse. That much will never be debated.
The lanky 6-foot-5 right-handed pitcher from Dana Hills (Calif.) High School is unapologetically himself, from occasionally animated antics on the mound to the fastball that has reached the upper 90s and could very well get him selected in the high rounds of the upcoming Major League Baseball Draft.
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Crouse's emotions run high on the mound and off, and while Dana Hills coach Tom Faris has had to rein in his charge from time to time, the talent and fire that Crouse flashes every time he takes the mound is undeniable.
"He's got a little different chemistry about him," Faris says. "But he's got the right makeup. I don't know if he fears anybody when he's playing. He doesn't fear anybody when he's pitching. So that's what you're getting."
Crouse's fastball is ranked among the best of any potential draftee. The pitch is right up there with another Southern California-based high school prospect, Hunter Greene, who is projected by some to go first overall. Crouse also throws a two-seam fastball, working it away to lefties and in on right-handed hitters.
He's working on refining his slider and changeup, mostly trying to sharpen the slider and "condensing the break so it's more slider-like instead of a slurve right now," Crouse says.
One thing he doesn't have to work on is his desire to win.
"The biggest thing is just go out each day the same as I have been," Crouse says. "Have fun on the baseball field with my teammates at practice, and then when it's my turn to pitch on the mound, just doing my job and showing the scouts what I've got and what kind of competitor I am out there."
Faris says there are not too many like him in the competitor category. Crouse might try different windups and deceptive deliveries on the mound that can border on unconventional, but when it comes down to it, he's trying to gain an advantage over the hitter.
"Probably one of the most competitive kids that I've ever seen and had at the high school level," Faris says. "He's a little different. … He's a team leader, in a sense, but what's great is that he's the same with every kid, whether it's a … freshman … or the seniors that he's graduating with. He treats everybody the same.
"He is very funny. Sometimes I wonder how his head fits through the door because of how he talks about himself, but those are all positive things for him, for sure."
Crouse is never boring. And his right arm is as exciting as it gets at the high school level. Faris says the fastball is hard enough and executed with enough movement that if he keeps his arm slot consistent, with his elbow above his shoulder, Crouse should flourish in pro ball.
"Mostly it's the changeup [that needs to improve]," Faris says. "I think that's going to be the one thing that he's got to get dialed in a little bit. But he's 18 years old. He's got a couple years to do that and he'll be just fine."
Crouse likes to emphasize that his quirkiness and humor are assets. He seems ready to enter the pro ranks and inject his big personality into whatever the next locker room might be.
He describes himself as "a really high-character person, a good teammate and someone who's going to fill up the strike zone with his fastball and just go out there and compete every day."
"I'm more of a jokester type," Crouse adds. "I like to keep a really loose clubhouse. And I just have a fun time with all the guys in there.
"I've mostly just learned the importance of being a good teammate, always, and picking up my guys behind me and just going out there and competing every day on the mound and giving my team a chance to win."
Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @DougMillerMLB.