Kutter Crawford Uses Down Time To Up His Stock
In the summer of 2017, one inning into his professional career after being taken out of Florida Gulf Coast as a 16th-round pick, Kutter Crawford experienced elbow discomfort.
It was enough to shut the righthander down for the duration of his first pro summer, but not enough for surgery.
Crawford impressed with his pitchability across three levels of full-season ball in 2018 and 2019. His four-pitch mix, anchored by a fastball and—yes—cutter projected as that of a potential big league depth option, perhaps a spot starter.
But he was pitching through discomfort that steadily grew and ultimately forced him to have Tommy John surgery after the 2019 season.
Crawford used the rehab not just to restore himself but to alter his mechanics. He’d been extremely closed off in his delivery, forcing him to redirect his body to get over his front side. He worked to straighten his line to the plate.
In the process the 25-year-old gained more true spin and an improved ability to command his fastball, cutter, curveball and splitter, while also showing an uptick in velocity to 93-96 mph.
“It was a four-pitch usable mix and he knew how to pitch (before the injury), but there were some wrinkles he had to iron out,” Triple-A Worcester pitching coach Paul Abbott said
“Getting hurt, he used that time the best he could to get his mechanics right, get better direction. And now that he’s healthy, we’re seeing a guy with better pitches because he ironed out those wrinkles.”
Crawford opened eyes with his performance at Double-A Portland and Worcester in 2021. In 16 appearances he recorded a 4.16 ERA with 103 strikeouts and just 13 walks in 75.2 innings.
His 7.9 strikeout-to-walk ratio ranked eighth in the minors among pitchers with at least 10 starts. Evaluators like him as a multi-innings reliever with a chance to emerge as a rotation depth option.
The Red Sox called him up to take a spot start on Sept. 5 amid a team Covid outbreak.
“I was excited about him two years ago,” Abbott said, "but I’m really excited now.”
— Nick Yorke hit .414/.500/.816 with 16 extra-base hits, including nine homers, 14 walks, and 14 strikeouts over 22 games in August, a month in which he was promoted from Low-A Salem to High-A Greenville. He was Boston's first-round pick in 2020.
— Triston Casas, who had one multi-homer game in his first 189 professional games, had a pair of two-homer games in a three-game, five-homer stretch with Double-A Portland in early September.