The fact that pitcher Hans Crouse made his major league debut in 2021, for the Philadelphia Phillies no less, was quite a surprise. I have covered Crouse extensively during my time with Inside the Rangers, and he was someone I have always rated highly.
When the trade was first announced between the Texas Rangers and the Phillies that saw Kyle Gibson and Ian Kennedy leave Texas and Spencer Howard was sent in return, I thought it was a fair deal. As soon as it was reported that Crouse was also on the move to Philadelphia, I knew the Phillies had won out on the trade.
Crouse was drafted by the Rangers in the second round of the 2017 MLB draft. He featured a power fast ball and an effective changeup to begin his professional career. However, Crouse dealt with elbow injuries that did not require Tommy John surgery and it required him to make some changes.
Upon his return, his fastball velocity had diminished slightly, but he had become more of a "pitcher" rather than a "thrower" because of it. His funky delivery and competitive and fiery spirit have allowed him to find success in the minors.
He was called upon to start a game in late September for the Phillies when they were in dire need of innings. Crouse's debut saw him throw 3.0 IP with one earned run. It came off of a home run on the first pitch of Crouse's major league career. An ominous start indeed.
He got another start in October in which he went 4.0 IP and gave up three earned runs. The California native was clearly not ready for the stage, but he is close. While he maintains that he believes he is a starting pitcher, many believe he could be better suited for a role in the bullpen based on his stuff.
For Philadelphia to extract the most from the trade, they too hope he can provide help for the rotation. If Crouse can refine his command and reduce the number of long balls and walks he issues, he could be a mid-rotation pitcher. His stuff can be baffling at times and he needs to take advantage of it without defeating himself.
His attitude and mindset also lineup well with that of a starting pitcher's mentality. We should see more of Crouse in 2022, perhaps in the bullpen, but he will have to make his case at the highest level.
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