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Crick could be ready to advance to Majors

Giants right-hander may be considered for bullpen role
MLB.com @sfgiantsbeat

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Kyle Crick has gained plenty of wisdom during four trips to Spring Training with the Giants. Among the lessons he has learned is a simple one: Don't be timid.

So when Crick was asked Monday whether he envisions beginning the regular season with Triple-A Sacramento, he replied, "I'd be lying if I said I was envisioning Triple-A. No, I think that would be selling myself short. If you can imagine, imagine [being] on a big league mound."

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Kyle Crick has gained plenty of wisdom during four trips to Spring Training with the Giants. Among the lessons he has learned is a simple one: Don't be timid.

So when Crick was asked Monday whether he envisions beginning the regular season with Triple-A Sacramento, he replied, "I'd be lying if I said I was envisioning Triple-A. No, I think that would be selling myself short. If you can imagine, imagine [being] on a big league mound."

Crick wasn't overestimating himself or being delusional. He quickly added that Triple-A is "most likely" where he'll be assigned in a few weeks.

He has, however, pitched 3 2/3 scoreless innings in three relief appearances. Should he maintain his effectiveness, he could force his way into the discussion about bullpen roles. Then if he were sent to Triple-A, he probably would improve his chances of making those big league thoughts a reality, sooner rather than later.

Formerly considered San Francisco's top pitching prospect, Crick has spent the previous three seasons at Double-A Richmond, where he compiled a 13-22 record with a 4.18 ERA in that span. In 82 games, including 56 starts, Crick walked 194 and struck out 270 in 262 innings. Except for the strikeout-to-innings pitched ratio, none of this suggested Crick was poised to join the Tim Lincecum-Matt Cain-Madison Bumgarner pantheon of homegrown All-Star pitchers.

Meanwhile, Tyler Beede, Ty Blach, Clayton Blackburn and Chris Stratton were among the pitchers who bypassed Crick in the organization's pecking order of prospects. Of the nine other pitchers named to the U.S. squad for the 2013 Futures Game along with Crick, eight have reached the Majors.

In fairness to Crick, he was drafted out of high school -- 49th overall in 2011. His was a steeper learning curve. His Cactus League efforts indicate he's finding level ground in his climb toward success.

After studying accomplished big leaguers during his visits to spring camp, Crick has realized that while he can try to adopt various methods of other pitchers, he ultimately must be himself.

"They all had their program and followed it to a T," Crick said. "The routine is something all your own. ... You can't watch people and copy them. You have to come up with your own thing."

Occasionally, though, a few pitchers have served as an absolute revelation for Crick. Fellow right-hander Johnny Cueto is one such example.

"I watch Cueto get ready for his bullpens and the precision that goes into it," Crick said. "Secondary pitches, mastering those. He throws a lot of changeups -- not hard or anything, just to get the feel. It's one of his better pitches, along with his curve. I think he's mastered the art of pitching -- timing changes, pitches, different looks, everything. He's got it down."

Cain, who scouts believed Crick could emulate, has noticed a difference in the 24-year-old.

"He's starting to figure out himself, realize what his abilities are and be confident," Cain said. "He has tremendous talent and I think it's whether he wants to be able to put it all together and show the rest of the guys, 'Hey, I've got big league stuff.'"

The role in which Crick ultimately displays his skills is uncertain. Giants manager Bruce Bochy emphasized that though Crick is currently working in relief, the organization's decision-makers in player development might decide he should continue to start in the Minors to refine his talent.

Crick is ready for anything.

"What I consider myself is a pitcher," he said.

Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast.

San Francisco Giants, Kyle Crick