Crosby Faces Pivotal Season For Tigers





DETROIT—The Tigers sent two of their top pitching prospects to anchor the rotation in Double-A Erie to begin this season.

One highly regarded pitcher who began the season with the SeaWolves was righthander Jacob Turner, Detroit's top prospect and the club's first-round pick in 2009.

The other was lefthander Casey Crosby, who battled through a rough debut as he allowed six runs (five earned) in 2 2⁄3 innings.

Crosby, 22, faces an important season in his development. While he began the year as the Tigers' sixth-ranked prospect, Crosby needs to prove he is past the injuries that have slowed his rise in the organization since Detroit selected him in the fifth round of the 2007 draft and paid him an above-slot bonus of $748,500.

Crosby hurt his elbow in instructional league that year and had Tommy John surgery, which limited him to just three appearances in 2008. The native of Maple Park, Ill., blossomed the next season, posting a 2.41 ERA in 24 starts for low Class A West Michigan while ranking among the Midwest League leaders with 117 strikeouts in 105 innings.

Last season Crosby suffered a setback, though. In his final start before spring training ended he suffered swelling in his elbow. The good news was that doctors discovered only swelling, not damage, to the elbow; the bad news was that the swelling allowed him to make just three Rookie-level Gulf Coast League starts, effectively robbing him of another season of development.

Crosby didn't waste the time, working with pitching coordinator Jon Matlack to smooth out his delivery. Matlack said they also have worked to improve his pitches.

"His velocity is still there," Matlack said of Crosby, who normally sits in the mid-90s but has reached the high 90s on occasion. "But his (curve), which already was a good pitch, is better, and his changeup has become a third pitch."

TIGER TALES

• Several Tiger pitching prospects began the season on the disabled list, including righthander Jose Ortega in Triple-A Toledo and righthander Cody Satterwhite in Erie. Satterwhite, a second-round pick in 2008, has not pitched in a game since August of 2009. Ortega, a 22-year-old reliever from Venezuela, struck out 39 batters in 422⁄3 innings last year between high Class A Lakeland and Erie.

• The Tigers received righthander Pedro Perez from the Red Sox as the player to be named later in the trade that sent shortstop Brent Dlugach to the Red Sox. Perez, 22, was 8-5, 3.94 in 28 appearances for low Class A Greenville last season.