FORT LAUDERDALE—Righthander Kevin Cravey's curveball used to fall in the too-much-of-a-good-thing category, so in 2012 he employed it more sparingly, relying instead on a mid-90s fastball that proved just as effective.
Pitching in a variety of relief roles for low Class A Greensboro, Cravey went 10-0, 1.01 in 33 appearances, striking out 42 and walking 12 in 53 innings.
"His curveball is a legitimate out pitch," minor league pitching coordinator Wayne Rosenthal said. "When you use that pitch too much, it just becomes another pitch. When he threw his curveball, it worked pretty good where he got swings and misses or bad contact—or it set up his fastball really well. He located down with his fastball."
Rosenthal said that on numerous occasions he saw Cravey freeze curveball-seeking hitters with fastballs. His strikeout-to-walk ratio was indicative of how well he spotted it, as is the fact he only gave up only one home run despite pitching half his games in Greensboro's bandbox.
Cravey turned 25 during his second straight season in the South Atlantic League, but then he didn't have a typical entry into pro ball. He pitched for Texas A&M in 2008 and sat out the next two seasons after having surgery to remove a bone spur from his right elbow.
He used the time wisely, working on his mechanical engineering degree, but he didn't get pitching out of his system. In June 2010, the Marlins signed Cravey out of a Major League Baseball Scouting Bureau tryout camp in Oklahoma.
"He was (pitching) way across his body," Rosenthal said. "We fixed his direction and his line, and a little bit with his hand separation. He wanted to keep the ball in his glove as long as he could, and bring it out at the last minute, and sometimes he'd be late."
At 6-foot-1, 180 pounds, Cravey isn't a physically imposing mound presence, though he does have a funky, deceptive delivery. The biggest key for Cravey moving forward will be staying healthy. In 2011 he missed time with a shoulder strain, and last season a minor bout of biceps tendinitis landed him on the disabled list for a stretch.
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