June 15, 2015
Focusing on the big talent in the 11th round of the 2015 draft, the Blue Jays selected right-handed pitcher Marrick Crouse out of Dana Hills High School in California. Some people were probably surprised that Crouse was still on the board at that point of the draft as the 6’3 righty already has the ability to pitch at up around 94 miles per hour with his fastball. Although surprising, Crouse had no preference where he was selected. He was just thankful for the opportunity.
“Being drafted by the Blue Jays was pretty surreal. I had known all along that they were interested in me and my advisor told me 20 minutes before the pick that they were going to select me,” said Crouse. “But none of that really hit me until I heard my name called while I was listening to the draft on my phone. I’m very grateful for the opportunity.”
Staying on the board later due to a strong college commitment to the University of San Francisco, the young prospect goes into detail of why he chose to commit to the Dons and how his recent draft news will play out on his decision in the upcoming weeks.
“I picked the University of San Francisco because it’s a great academic school that has some very good coaches that have been part of that program for 15+ years,” explained Crouse. “I went up there a couple times and every time I went it felt like a family. My selection by the Blue Jays will definitely play a big part and what I decide to do. It’s a big decision with pros and cons both ways. I’m just trying to take some time and decide what’s best for my future.”
Obviously Blue Jays fans are hoping that the 18-year old decides to join their organization, especially noting that the young pitcher already throws four pitches. Mixing in a slider, a curveball, and a changeup to compliment his already great fastball; all of which makes Crouse look well-prepared for the competition he will face in professional baseball.
With that said, Crouse understands if he goes the professional route it’s going to be a challenge as you have more adversity in pro ball compared to what you see in high school baseball.
“I feel my biggest strength on the mound is that I’m very even-keel and I don’t let anything bother me. I keep a level head and handle adversity really well,” stated Crouse. “I understand that some days you just won’t have it and that’s just something that everyone has to accept. The guys who seem to get that are normally the ones who stick around a long time.”
That ability showed during his senior season at Dana Hills when Crouse went 8-4 with a 1.63 ERA in 77 1/3 innings pitched. If those numbers weren’t impressive enough, Crouse pitched five complete games in 13 outings averaging close to a strikeout an inning by picking up 75 Ks on the year.
His excellent senior season capped off an impressive high school career where Crouse went 20-8 with a 1.83 ERA and 172 strikeouts in 187 1/3 innings pitched over three seasons. Opposing hitters only managed a .194 batting average against the righty for his entire varsity career.
But, for Crouse, his time at Dana Hills was more than just great pitching. He was also an outfielder on non-pitching days and it’s an area he speaks very highly as his time in the batter’s box prepared him for knowing what pitches to throw in certain situations.
“I think playing both sides of the game helps you understand pitching a little bit. But only in the aspect of when you’re hitting you try to understand what pitchers do and I think that’s helped me a lot in terms of not being as predictable as most pitchers my age,” explained Crouse. “I see stuff other guys do on the mound. I just try to make sure I don’t do those same things.”
Always throwing out of a ¾ arm slot since the beginning of his pitching days; Crouse was encouraged by others to change his approach over time. But Crouse remained committed on his technique and he’s happy he did as he really likes the movement he can get on his pitches on any given day.
“I started to throw out of the ¾ arm angle the first time I picked up a baseball. When I was little everybody tried to change that and get me away from throwing that way. But I never did and it has benefitted me I guess,” said Crouse. “I’ve never had an injury of any kind from pitching or throwing. The ¾ arm slot just felt comfortable for me. I think it gives me an advantage on hitters, especially from the run and sink it puts on the baseball when I pitch. But I have to make sure I keep the pitch down in the zone or that run and sink turns into a pitch in the upper inner part of the plate and that’s where anybody can get hurt pitching.”
Another area Crouse excelled at in high school was on the basketball court. Many people thought that the young prospect might pursue a career on the hardwood instead of the pitcher’s mound. But Crouse admits that was never the case as he felt that he had a better opportunity in baseball.
“I loved playing basketball and I actually think it helped in most areas of baseball. It really made me more of an athletic person and being an athlete is a good thing,” stated Crouse. “What led me away from basketball was just the fact that I wasn’t getting as much baseball work in as I could before the season. I knew my future was in baseball so I made a tough decision to give up basketball to focus on baseball.”
In fact, Crouse has spent a lot of time following major league baseball focusing primarily on pitching. Spending a lot of time following Felix Hernandez’s career growing up, Crouse admits he likes the way King Felix handles his business in any situation.
“Growing up my biggest baseball influence was Felix Hernandez,” said Crouse. “Every time Felix goes out there something special could happen and he’s been doing it for so long on a team who really before last year didn’t give him any run support. He handles his business well and he’s a constant professional.”
While Hernandez was his biggest baseball influence growing up there’s another young pitcher that’s starting to turn heads that Crouse is really starting to become a fan of and it’s a guy Blue Jays fans know well.
“As much as I like Felix Hernandez’s game. I have really become a big Aaron Sanchez fan of late,” Crouse added. “I love Sanchez’s pitches. He’s got electric stuff.”
Officially done with high school now Crouse can only reflect on what has been an amazing experience at Dana Hills. While there are many memories that will stay with him forever; there are not many that will top playing baseball with his younger brother Hans this past season.
“Pitching on the same team as my brother was very special. It was my last year of high school and I was lucky enough to be pitching alongside my brother who’s also my best friend,” explained Crouse. “The experience was great. We really pushed one another to be better this year, because of a little sibling rivalry. We always wanted to be better than the other guy, but at the end of the day we never let that get between us as brothers and I was very happy and fortunate to be his teammate. I know he’ll do great things as well at Dana Hills the next two years.”
Hopefully Marrick Crouse can continue to make memories in baseball for years to come.