There's an easy and obvious explanation for why the Giants have won two of the past three World Series: They pitch very, very well. San Francisco has drafted and developed the likes of Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum and Madison Bumgarner, then rode them to success.
Right-hander Kyle Crick may be the heir apparent to that rich tradition of young arms. Selected 49th overall in the 2011 Draft, he pitched his first full season last year and, along the way, established himself as the Giants' top prospect.
The 20-year-old Texan went 7-6 for Class A Augusta in the South Atlantic League, compiling a 2.51 ERA over 111 1/3 innings. His most eye-opening statistics, however, were 128 strikeouts -- or 10.35 per nine innings -- against 67 walks. He also surrendered just one home run all season.
Crick worked his way into MLB.com's ranking of Top 100 Prospects this year, checking in at No. 86. With another season like 2012, he could crack the Top 50.
MiLB.com: First, what were your workouts like during the offseason? Was there anything you were targeting?
Kyle Crick: I'd say more than gaining strength this offseason was about getting flexible -- in my arms, legs, shoulders. We did some hot yoga...
MiLB.com: Hot yoga? Who got you into that?
Crick: That was the Giants. In one of our camps, they actually made us do that every week. A lot of the guys ended up that they liked it because it helped so much. Almost like a cleansing, everybody felt a lot more flexible.
MiLB.com: Work on a new pitch or anything like that coming into this season?
Crick: I'd say the biggest for me is the changeup, throwing it for a strike or down in the zone. I have a slider and curveball pretty well down. I haven't messed with the change too much, but at instructional camp last year they forced me to just that and the fastball, so I got to use it and learn what it could do.
MiLB.com: Your season opened a lot of eyes last year. Did you think you were capable of that?
Crick: I dunno. I felt like the Giants did a great job with introducing me how to pitch. They brought an older catcher, Jeff Arnold, down and he caught every game I threw. I don't believe I shook him off once. He knew baseball so well, could diagnose a swing better than anybody, so I think I learned the most about pitching from a catcher this year.
MiLB.com: Did you consider yourself a big strikeout pitcher before or was that something that just developed?
Crick: Not at all. The strikeouts came kind of accidentally; it was more if I was on the same page as Arnold and I could execute the pitch. Ground balls are just as good. In fact, I would take a ground ball in the first three pitches over a strikeout in six or seven pitches. I want to go deeper in games.
MiLB.com: What kind of year would you have to have this season to consider it a successful follow-up?
Crick: If I could cut my walks in half, I would say it would be a successful year for me. As long as I get the mound time and stay healthy the full year, I think that would be a success. I feel the best, really, I ever have -- think I lost a couple pounds.
MiLB.com: Giants pitchers at the Major League level tend to log a lot of innings. Do you think there's anything specifically about the way they develop arms that allows for that?
Crick: I would put that on the strength coaches. Our strength and medical staff is pretty phenomenal. The workouts you do after you throw, your shoulder program, your rotator cuff program, they have you on it. Every pitcher is treated the exact same way, too. It's awesome and pretty much keeps everyone healthy.
MiLB.com: Do you ever catch yourself daydreaming about becoming that next Cain or Lincecum or Bumgarner type?
Crick: I don't think so. I just take it one day at a time. They're not mythical -- I don't necessarily look at them like that -- but they're definitely above me in a sense of I how I view them. They're the elite pitchers and I can't really consider myself an elite pitcher.
MiLB.com: How much extra does it motivate you to get to that level, to reach the big leagues, knowing they're up there winning championships?
Crick: I mean it's probably the coolest thing in the world, to be in a position to play for a team that won two out of the last three World Series. I consider myself blessed, lucky to be here.
I'm actually gonna go up there for Spring Training. I'm already out in Scottsdale [at Minor League camp], so I figured I might go up and watch them, just to be around them -- learn how Cain and Bumgarner and those guys do things.