The climb through the minor leagues was painfully slow for Sherman High graduate Kyle Crick. For a few years he remained stuck at the Double-A level in the San Francisco Giants’ organization, perhaps wondering if he would ever get the chance to make it to The Show.
Crick, a 2011 supplemental first-round pick, was touted at the beginning as the Giants’ top pitching prospect. Though his star dimmed somewhat as he struggled, the club remained patient with the youthful right-hander and placed him on the Giants’ 40-man roster at the end of last season rather than let him go via the Rule 5 draft.
Crick won promotion to Triple-A in the spring, and then on Monday, Crick’s farm odyssey finally had a happy ending: He learned that he had been called up to the parent ballclub for the first time. Crick caught a 6 a.m. flight to Atlanta and joined the Giants at SunTrust Park before they played the Braves Tuesday evening.
To clear a roster spot for Crick, the Giants optioned right-hander Derek Law to Sacramento.
According to Baseball Almanac, Crick is the eighth player born in Sherman to make a major-league roster all-time. But Crick is apparently the first ever who played baseball for Sherman High, since most of the others predated the Bearcats’ baseball program, and the almanac lists no SHS alumni in the bigs.
The previous most-recent Sherman-born major leaguer according to the almanac was Jeff Darwin, who attended Bonham schools and pitched for the Seattle Mariners and Chicago White Sox from 1994-97.
A starting pitcher for most of his minor-league career, Crick was converted to a reliever this spring and retrenched his path to the majors completely. In 29 1/3 innings at Triple-A Sacramento, Crick had a 2.76 ERA and 39 strikeouts, with six saves and a .220 batting average against.
“I liked hearing the fans on the last couple strikes,” Crick told the East Bay Times on Tuesday. “It was cool because it was all so different. I’ve never been in the ninth inning as a starter.”
Crick, who is still just 24, touches the upper 90s with his fastball and has a very strong curve, but his struggles with command hampered his advancement in the minors for a time. His high walk rate kept him at the Giants’ Double-A affiliate in Richmond, Va. for three seasons in a row from 2014 to 2016.
However, relocating to the bullpen this spring has helped Crick cut down significantly on his free passes and finally earned him a long-sought promotion to Triple-A out of spring training. His strikeout-to-walk ratio is dramatically improved, with 39 strikeouts versus 13 walks, one intentional.
The Giants will likely work Crick in as a middle-inning reliever with the capability of throwing multiple innings, manager Bruce Bochy said before Tuesday night’s game.
Crick will have lots of company in Atlanta if and when he makes his big-league debut. Crick’s parents traveled from Sherman and were in attendance Tuesday night; and one of Crick’s old high school skippers, former Bearcat head coach Art Senato, said he will be flying to Atlanta for tonight’s game.
San Francisco entered Tuesday night’s game at 26-46, 20 games out of first place in the National League West and on a seven-game losing streak. Only the Philadelphia Phillies have a worse record in baseball.
Crick, who wowed scouts at the Area Code Games in 2010, the summer before his senior year, was taken 49th overall in the supplemental first round by the Giants in 2011 after going 7-2 with a 1.11 ERA and 95 strikeouts on the mound for the Bearcats. After being offered a signing bonus of more than $900,000, Crick passed up a scholarship to play baseball at TCU to go pro.