The Kansas City Royals are searching for solid starting pitching options like a lot of other teams this off-season. From landing major free agents like C.J. Wilson to wishing upon a Japanese star with Yu Darvish, teams will do just about anything (read: spend just about anything) to round out their rotations. Yet some teams cannot afford the same players as others, which leaves the Royals having to become creative in their habits. That also means that looking inward might make for the best move.
Aaron Crow is a young arm who was actually drafted to be a starter in the minors before breaking into the majors last season in the bullpen. R.J. Anderson of Baseball Prospectus believes that Crow might be the pitcher the Royals are looking for if he can turn around his fortunes from when he first started in the minors. Certainly his incredible year last year as a rookie is enough to give him another look. He writes:
The Royals were impressed by Crow’s 2011—in which he finished with the second-lowest earned run average in the pen—enough to consider moving him back to the rotation. Starting games would not be a new experience for Crow. He was drafted as a starter and made 29 starts in 2010 in the minors for the Royals before they chose to break him into the majors as a reliever.
Crow’s performance in those starts left something to be desired, namely good results. A 5.73 earned run average, 2.20 strikeout-to-walk ratio, and hit rate exceeding 10 per nine innings pitched do not suggest a smooth transition to the major leagues. Still, Crow did show good stuff. A low-to-mid-90s fastball with good sink and a knockout slider are enough to retire major-league batters. The problem is that Crow’s mechanics hurt his strike-throwing consistency, pigeonholing him as a fastball-only pitcher.
If anything, he should warrant a look alongside other young Royals pitchers. If he doesn't work, Joakim Soria is another option and prospects like Mike Montgomery will also get a chance in spring training.