Cal notes: Healthy Crick seeks control

Back from injury, Giants' top prospect looking to limit walks

Kyle Crick has struck out 44 batters and walked 19 over 29 2/3 innings. (Ken Weisenberger/

By George Alfano / Special to | July 10, 2013 6:28 AM ET

San Jose right-hander Kyle Crick appears to be trying to make up for lost time in terms of his strikeout totals -- he just wants to cut down on the walks.

Crick, the Giants' No. 1 prospect, missed two months with an injury to his left oblique. In four starts since returning from the DL, he's fanned 32 batters in 20 innings. Overall, the 20-year-old Texan has a 1-1 record and 1.21 ERA.

"My first goal for the rest of the season is to stay healthy," said Crick, a supplemental first-round pick (No. 49 overall) by San Francisco in the 2011 Draft. "My second goal is to reduce the number of walks."

In his first start since returning to San Jose, Crick struck out 10 batters in 4 2/3 innings. However, he also walked three batters and, since he was limited to about 75 pitches, didn't finish the fifth inning.

In his next two starts, he walked only one batter in each. He fanned eight in five innings against Stockton and notched 10 strikeouts in a six-inning outing at Modesto. On July 9 against Lake Elsinore, he blanked the Storm on one hit but walked five batters in five frames.

Crick injured himself April 18 at Inland Empire. He said he felt a pain on the mound, but at first it didn't seem all that bad.

"My adrenaline kept me pitching, but after five or six pitches I knew something was wrong," Crick said. "What really heals this injury is rest."

After doing some simple exercises, Crick went to extended spring training in Arizona. He started with pitching one inning during games and gradually worked his way up to five frames.

Crick, a 6-foot-4 right-hander, was ranked as San Francisco's No. 16 prospect by in 2012. He had a 7-6 record and a 2.51 ERA last season with the Augusta GreenJackets in the South Atlantic League. He struck out 128 batters in 111 1/3 innings, and opposing batters hit just .193 against him. He allowed only one home run but he also walked 67 batters.

Crick played baseball and football at Sherman High School in Texas, intending to play baseball at Texas Christian University before being a high Draft pick. He knew he would be a pitcher during tryouts in his first year of high school.

"In my freshman year of high school, I was throwing harder than anybody else, so it seemed a natural thing to be a pitcher," Crick said.

Crick's fastball ranges from 93 to 98 mph, and he's improving command of his slider, curve and changeup.

"Lately, my curve is working well, but I usually go with whatever feels best before the game and what is working in the game," said Crick. "I'm learning a lot more about pitching and how to get people out, instead of just throwing the ball. I'm more relaxed, and when I am behind in the count, I can throw a strike and get back into the counts."

In brief

Sakata out: Modesto Nuts skipper Lenn Sakata, who holds the California League record for most wins as a manager, was fired Saturday after apparent disagreements with the Colorado Rockies. According to a report in the Modesto Bee, Sakata was not going to be offered a contract for next year. The Rockies said Sakata did not carry out the organization's wishes, while Sakata said he did his best to develop players. Sakata was replaced by Fred Nelson, director of player development for the Nuts.

Rosario undaunted: Diogenes Rosario has made 26 appearances for the Visalia Rawhide this season, all in relief, but the Arizona Diamondbacks assigned him to Triple-A to make a spot start for Reno on July 5. Although Rosario was charged with a loss, he gave the Aces a quality start by allowing three runs on seven hits in six innings. He struck out six and walked one. The right-hander from San Rafael Del Yuma, Dominican Republic, was returned to Visalia, where he has a 5-1 record with a 3.73 ERA.

Yarbrough leads hit parade: Inland Empire 2B Alex Yarbrough has a wide lead on the California League leaderboard for hits. As of Monday night's game, Yarbrough had 117 hits, which is 19 more than Andrew Aplin of the Lancaster JetHawks. Yarbrough, a former All-American at Mississippi, is batting .323 with 10 home runs. The Angels' fourth-round selection from the 2012 Draft has 55 RBIs and has scored 53 runs.

Moving up roundup: The Los Angeles Dodgers promoted Garrett Gould, a second-round selection in 2009, from Rancho Cucamonga to Double-A Chattanooga in the Southern League. Gould earned a victory in his first appearance for the Lookouts on July 5. ... The San Diego Padres promoted Robert Kral from Lake Elsinore to the Double-A San Antonio Missions of the Texas League. Kral hit .291 and had 12 home runs for the Storm. ... Tim Smalling was promoted from the Modesto Nuts to the Double-A Tulsa Drillers of the Texas League. The third baseman played college baseball at Virginia Tech. ... The Oakland Athletics promoted two players, lefty Jake Brown and righty Pedro Vidal, from the Stockton Ports to the Double-A Midland RockHounds of the Texas League. Vidal had two saves and struck out 41 batters in 40 1/3 innings, while Brown was 2-3 with a 4.21 ERA for Stockton.

George Alfano is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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