If the year 2020 has taught us anything, it's that we don't know where the road of life's next turn will take us. Former Los Angeles Dodgers and current Chicago Dogs pitcher Casey Crosby, 31, is a perfect example.
Originally drafted by the Detroit Tigers in the fifth round in 2010, he made three appearances with them in 2012 before being sent back to the minors. Crosby spent last season pitching for the Dogs, an independent baseball club located in suburban Rosemont, Illinois, where he posted a 1.74 ERA and 1.26 WHIP over 46 2/3 innings.
He got another chance at the show when a viral video circulated online (a retweet from former Dodger Yu Darvish helped), and he posted some impressive new-age pitching analytics numbers. Signed by the Dodgers last December, he made two spring training appearances, where he hit 100 mph on the radar gun.
However, he started this season at AAA, and was released a couple weeks ago.
"Good chance he could have seen some Major League action this summer, but when Major League Baseball took a pause they decided to shut down their affiliated system," said Chicago Dogs Owner Shawn Hunter, a former NBA, NHL and MLS executive.
"We were lucky to get Casey back, and I wouldn't be surprised if at some point this summer they come calling and tap him to come back and play."
Crosby is one of six players on the Dogs roster with Major League service time, with the 12-team American Association having 13 altogether. His manager, Butch Hobson, also has big league experience, as both a player and skipper. The Dogs are one of six teams in the league safely hosting a limited number of fans amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Crosby, who registers about 73-78 mph on his curveball and 88-93 on his cutter, discussed the highlight of his spring with the Dodgers: "[B]eing able to throw for them and throw the crap out of the ball was pretty cool."
Getting the chance to back up Walker Buehler was also a highlight; the Dodgers ace extremely impressed Crosby.
"He's just so clean with his mechanics," Crosby said.
"It's pretty incredible how he can repeat so well, and sequence his body to be able to throw that hard. He's not the biggest guy in the world, but he can consistently throw 95 and it's so clean, he has so many pitches and they're all plus plus."
About those post-modern pitching statistics, Crosby excels in spin efficiency data, with vertical movement numbers that would place him in the uppers 90s, percentile wise, in the majors.
"You see guys topping out at 89-90 miles per hour, but nobody can hit 'em, like it's invisible and nobody can explain it," he said regarding new age analytics.
"And now you can explain it with how their ball moves...bottom line is you still have to execute your pitches. You can spin the crap out of the ball, but if you're not putting it where it plays, hitters are learning about this launch angle and they're going to connect with it."
So what will be the key to Crosby getting back to the show? "Command, not letting walks affect me and letting my stuff play in the strike zone," he responded.
Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, the author of “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” regularly contributes to WGN TV, Sports Illustrated, Chicago Now and SB Nation.