One-time Washington Nationals draftee Aaron Crow will be given a chance to compete for the Kansas City Royals starting rotation, according to, you guessed it, Jim Bowden. You’ll recall that the Nationals (and Bowden) drafted Crow with their first pick in the 2008 draft only to lose the rights to the potential-filled starter when the two sides couldn’t reach an agreement before the MLB signing deadline.
Crow re-entered the draft the following year and was selected by the Kansas City Royals, who he inevitably signed with for a $4.5 million deal including signing bonus. The Nationals had offered him as much as $3.5 million.
In his second year with the organization Crow, to the surprise of some, excelled as a powerful middle reliever for the Royals. In 57 games pitched he posted a 2.76 ERA, while posting 65 strikeouts in 62.0 innings pitched. His performance, as well as the overall lack of talent on Kansas City’s active roster, resulted in an All-Star appearance for the 24-year-old.
Yesterday it was reported that the Royals had agreed to a deal with Jonathon Broxton to be their set-up man for closer Joakim Soria, which has opened the door for the club to attempt to convert Crow back into a starter. What made Crow’s success in Kansas City so peculiar, however, was that at no level in the minor leagues had he pitched well before his haphazard promotion. At no point in his minor league career did he pitch in Triple-A, and in 22 games as a starting pitcher he posted a dreadful 5.66 ERA and a truly less impressive 90 strikeouts in 119 innings pitched. He was even worse in seven starts in high Single-A Wilmington.
The Royals might be in line for a major disappointment from Crow. While he stormed on to the scene before the All-Star break as a shutdown reliever, his second half ERA ballooned to 4.34. In the month of August he posted a 8.53 ERA in nine games, and in September he posted a 5.79 ERA in six games. It appears to me that the switch to the bullpen allowed him to overthrow certain pitches in a way he had never been able to before as a starter…unfortunately it looks like in the long run that transformation wasn’t able to provide consistent production.
It’s certainly possible that Crow could magically transform himself into a strong starting pitcher with literally no experience above Triple-A and no positive minor league experience at all, but I’d be surprised. All I can say is Drew Storen is looking pretty good, and pretty cheap, in comparison these days.