Moving forward with our 2017 MLB Draft profiles, we turn back to the high school pitching ranks today with a look at Hans Crouse.
Crouse is a right-handed pitcher from high school in Dana Point, California. Scouts (and college coaches) have had their eye on him for years and he’s lived up to expectations this spring, with his fastball ranking second only to Hunter Greene in the prep class among right-handers. Some observers even rate Crouse’s fastball ahead of Greene’s.
Listed at 6-5, 185, Crouse is skinny but athletic, a left-handed hitter and right-handed thrower born September 15th, 1998. He is committed to the University of Southern California for baseball but should be signable for first-round money.
Crouse throws quite hard, working in the mid-to-upper-90s at his best. As his body fills out he should throw even harder (or at least hold his peak velocities more readily) despite non-standard mechanics (more on that in a moment). His breaking ball is erratic: this pitch looks plus at times but he has trouble commanding it and it remains to be seen if it will be more of a slider or curve in the long run. He has tinkered with a below average change-up which may or may not improve with time.
Despite his inconsistent secondaries Crouse has been dominant, in part due to his mound presence. His personality is unusual: Baseball America describes him as “goofy and playful” off the field but an “intense competitor” on the mound while Perfect Game notes his “animated and entertaining actions on the mound” but also praises his “openly competitive” nature and track record of performance under pressure.
He may be unconventional, but scouts love him.
Although his unusual delivery adds extra deception to his pitches, Crouse is a high-effort cross-body thrower who does not have classic textbook pitching mechanics. So far it hasn’t hurt him: he’s been healthy and his command is better than most pitchers his age, but it adds some uncertainty to the package.
The need to improve his change-up is also a factor, although given his competitive nature he should be able to do so. Nevertheless, it is uncertain whether Crouse will start or relieve in the long run.
There’s no question that Crouse has a first-round arm, although the questions about his mechanics and his secondary pitches will likely keep him out of the top half of the round. He could go anywhere in the second half of the first round or in the supplemental round, but if he lasts too long on draft day signability may be an issue.
If the change-up develops properly and durability isn’t a factor, Crouse could be a number two starter. If the uncertainties prove problematic, he could still make a fine closer.
Prospect Pipeline video