Mid-Season Dirty Thirty-Five: Prospect #25

Since this is the mid-season write-up, it's just a quick overview of the player. When we get to the preseason re ranking in the offseason, they'll be a lot more involved.


All stats are current as of 8/4/2019.


All write-ups were published during all-star week.


Prospect #25: LHP Evan Kruczynski


Springfield Cardinals

Drafted in the 9th round of the 2017 draft

Age 24




By the end of the 2018 season, it really looked like Kruczynski was ready to take the next step in his development. A deceptive lefty that commanded three average-to-above pitches, Kruczynski seemed like he was destined to fill some valuable innings for the big club, and in the near future. He had some struggles in the Arizona Fall League early in appearances, but he really seemed to have straightened out those issues by the end of his time there.

It'd be fair to call 2019 a near-complete disaster for Kruczynski. His velocity has maintained through starts, but his command hasn't been the positive that it showed to be last season. We are seeing him miss high, and outside to right-handers, with the fastball, while spiking the breaking ball in the dirt with it. His changeup seems to be the one pitch that he can rely on consistently. The problem is, he's relying on it early on in starts, and by the third time around the lineup that pitch is getting hit. He doesn't throw a lot of bad pitches during his starts, it's just that he isn't fooling anyone. Because of this, he isn't getting away with the few bad pitches that he's throwing.


This is a four-pitch mix of what it looks like when Kruczynski is looking bad. He hangs a breaking pitch, gets away with a fastball, misses with the fastball and is lucky that it isn't destroyed, then allows a long fly ball over the head of the center fielder on a pitch in the middle of the plate:


This is a three-pitch mix of what it looks like when Kruczynski is looking good. This lefty doesn't stand a chance. That's a great breaking ball to start a left-hander off with. Fastball on the outside corner then sets up the chase on the slider that's well outside:

Now, this is usually where I start to problem solve for the player. I put my little league coaching hat on, and I pretend like I know what I'm talking about (Narrator: He doesn't). I honestly don't know what to say or think in regards to Kruczynski. Like, I just don't get it, really. He's throwing too many pitches, and he's working behind in counts too often, for sure. I just don't buy that he's as bad as he's been in 2019. His stuff is too good for that. I can't help but think that his issues all stem from the fastball, which appears to have really flattened out.

One thing that I feel like I'm noticing in regards to the fastball is, he works quicker when he gets the signal to throw the fastball. It takes him an extra tenth of a second to throw the change or breaking pitch, but he's quick in his delivery with the fastball. This is especially true after the first inning. I'd really like to see him be more consistent in his timing. He doesn't always do it, but it's not a surprise that his fastball is getting hit as hard as it is when he is doing this. Maybe I'm trying too hard to look for things because, again, Kruczynski is too good of a pitcher to be pitching this poorly. There has to be something there that's tipping hitters off to the fastball. This is a hill that I'll die on.

Whatever the reason for his lack of success in 2019, it's time for Kruczynski to turn it around. Right now, 2019 seems like another set-back season for a promising prospect.


UPDATE:

It's a small sample, but it looks like Kruczynski is starting to put it back together. Over his last four starts, a total of 24 innings, Kruczynski has k'ed 19 with a 3.00 ERA. He's done this while allowing a batting average against of .183 and an OPS against of .626. He has allowed four home runs while walking 12, and that's concerning. But I'll take the small gain here. Maybe command really has been the issue all along.

Thanks to Fangraph for the stats!


Thanks For Reading!!

Kyle Reis