2022 Phuture Phillies #8 Prospect: Hans Crouse

Hans Crouse is the Phuture Phillies’ Readers’ #8 Pick. 

Hans Michael Crouse was born in Dana Point, California.  He played on the Dana Hills HS baseball team with his older brother, RHP Marrick, who was drafted out of USC by Toronto in the 11th round of the 2018 Amateur Draft.  He didn’t sign with the Blue Jays but was signed as a free agent by Atlanta in July 2019.

2014-2017: Crouse pitched JV his freshman year.  He went 2-3 with a 2.08 ERA in 10 appearances that included 4 starts.  He accumulated 2 complete games, one shutout, and 3 saves.  In 37.0 innings, Crouse walked 15 batters and struck out 38.  He also made 2 appearances with the varsity in relief with a 3.00 ERA in 2.1 innings.

Crouse pitched varsity in his sophomore year.  In 13 appearances, he had 7 starts and one complete game.  He went 6-1 with a 1.80 ERA.  In 50.2 innings, he faced 206 batters, walked 22 (10.7%), and struck out 54 (26.2%).

As a junior, Crouse posted a 5-4 record and 1.15 ERA.  He had 13 appearances, 12 starts, 4 complete games, 2 shutouts, and one save.  In 73.0 innings, he faced 283 batters, walked 21 (7.4%), and struck out 96 (33.9%).  Crouse was throwing 97 mph and started to garner national attention.

Crouse pitched on the 18U Team USA squad and received the USA Baseball International Performance of the Year Award for his dominant performance in the gold medal game of the 2016 COPABE Pan Am “AAA” Championships in Monterrey, Mexico. Crouse got the start and held the Cuban National Team to one hit in seven innings.  He was perfect for 4.2 innings before walking a batter.  He finished the game with 11 strikeouts and led the 18U National Team to its sixth consecutive gold medal in international competition.

Crouse entered his senior season on the MaxPreps 2017 PreseasonBaseball All-American Team.  He posted a 7-3 record with a 1.17 ERA in 12 appearances, 11 starts.  In 66.0 innings, he faced 265 batters, walked 17 (6.4%), and struck out 103 (38.9%).

Crouse committed to USC but signed with the Texas Rangers when he was drafted in the second round of the 2017 Amateur Draft (66 overall).

2017: Crouse signed on June 16, 2017, and made his debut with the Rangers in the Arizona League.  He made 10 appearances and threw 20.0 innings.  He posted a 0.45 ERA, faced 74 batters, walked 7 (9.5%), and struck out 30 (40.5%).

2018: Crouse spent his second professional season splitting time between Low-A and Full-Season-A.  He posted a combined 5-3 record with a 2.47 ERA in 13 starts.  In 54.2 innings, he faced 227 batters, walked 19(8.4%), and struck out 63 (27.8%).

2019: Crouse spent all of his third season in Class-A ball in the SAL.  He posted a 6-1 record with a 4.41 ERA in 19 starts.  In 87.2 innings, he faced 367 batters, walked 19 (5.2%), struck out 76 (20.7%).

2020: pandemic

2021: Crouse started the post-pandemic season in Double-A.  He pitched well and was part of a trade that sent 2021 MLB All-Star RHP Kyle Gibson, MLB closer RHP Ian Kennedy, and Crouse to the Phillies for three RHP prospects Spencer Howard, Kyle Gowdy, and Josh Gessner.

Crouse had 19 Double-A starts across both organizations plus one Triple-A start with Lehigh Valley.  He was also called up to make 2 September starts for the Phillies.  In the minors, he was a combined 5-4 with a 3.28 ERA in 20 starts.  He threw 87.2 innings, faced 337 batters, walked 34 (10.1%), and struck out 98 (29.1%).

Prior to the 2021 season, Prospects Live prepared a scouting report on Crouse that wasn’t published until August.

Scouting Report From March 2021

OFP Role FB CB CH Cont/Cmd
45 40 60 55 45 40/30

Physical Description: Large, lanky frame that’s begun to fill out. Long legs with strong thighs, high waist, short torso. Average build with broad shoulders. Previous injuries include biceps tendonitis and surgery for bone spurs in 2019.

Delivery & Mechanics: Windup; drop and drive. Low 3/4s arm slot with moderately high effort and above-average arm speed. Awkward, herky-jerky motion that is tough to replicate but manages to repeat decently. Shorter stride, significant head-whack at finish.

Fastball: 92-97, t99; Good velocity with ride (despite low arm slot) and run plus an unconventional delivery that makes it tough for hitters to square up. Often gets whiffs in the zone and above it. Will overthrow it resulting in non-competitive locations. Command is so-so, sometimes dotting corners, other times spiking it at 55 feet. Strong pitch with double-plus potential due to velo and movement, command and consistency hold it back. Grade: 60

Slider: 81-84; gyro-slider with solid depth and some sweep. Flashes plus, borderline double-plus at its best with hard, late movement. More consistently in the above-average range. Vertical movement helps get whiffs but he’ll drop it in for a strike now and again, too. Some command issues, like the fastball, that lead to uncompetitive locations. Will manipulate it at times to look like a curveball, but not a truly separate pitch. Grade: 55

Changeup: 82-85; average tumble with some fade. Sells well with arm speed. Lacks feel for command at present, but showed improvement in 2019. Potential to get to average with more consistency and command, but not guaranteed. Grade: 45

Control and Command: Strong pitchability traits, knows how to affect a hitter’s timing; likes to keep them off balance. Willingness to work backward. Has bouts of strike-throwing issues where he loses the release. Tendency to fall behind and has to come over the heart. Not very efficient. Control: 40 | Command: 30

Overall: Righty with big stuff and odd delivery that can get major league hitters out but likely from the bullpen. Delivery aside, the command is probably too erratic for him to turn over a lineup more than once despite the developing changeup. Very good fastball/slider combo would tick up even more out of the pen and give him a shot at a high-leverage role.

OFP: 45
Role: 40 – Spot Starter, Long Reliever or Low-Leverage Reliever
Risk: High

In May, 2021, Fan-Sided posted an article discussing a recent MLB Pipeline article where Jim Callis, Sam Dykstra, and Jonathan Mayo tried to identify one potential closer for each team.

The Pipeline staff identified Hans Crouse as a Rangers’ prospect who could be a future closer.  (FYI, they identified Eduar Segovia as a Phillies’ prospect who might be a future closer.)

Fan-Sided: A second-round pick straight out of high school back in 2017, Hans Crouse has been one of the Rangers’ more highly regarded pitching prospects for quite some time now. For the most part, he’s been productive down in the Minor Leagues since joining the Texas farm system, with his high-velocity fastball and devastating slider being his main go-to pitches.

Here’s the blurb on Crouse from the previously mentioned MLB.com article:

MLB: Rangers: Hans Crouse, RHP (No. 7)

Though the Rangers plan on developing Crouse as a starter, there are evaluators who believe his delivery and high-energy approach ultimately will fit best in a late-inning bullpen role. The 2017 second-rounder from a California high school definitely has closer-worthy stuff with a riding fastball that reaches 99 mph and a wipeout slider with mid-80s velocity and two-plane break.

Fan-Sided: Like Callis, Dykstra, and Mayo mentioned, the Rangers are currently planning to develop Crouse up as a starting pitcher moving forward. At just 22 years old and having yet to make an appearance in Double-A, there’s little reason to bail on the starter pathway quite yet.

Fan-Sided: However, Crouse does in fact have the profile of someone who would excel in a bullpen role. His fastball is already nearing that ever coveted triple-digit mark, and his secondary slider has the makings of a high swing-and-miss pitch in the Major Leagues.

Fan-Sided: Crouse’s biggest weakness at the moment is his lack of a reliable third pitch, as his changeup has yet to really develop at an above-average rate. He’s also battled some injury issues back in 2019 (elbow bone spurs), which is something to consider when profiling his status as either a starter or a reliever.

Fan-Sided: He currently possesses a 3.27 ERA and a 9.3 K/9 rate across 162.1 innings of Single-A/Rookie ball, so there’s definitely something to keep an eye on here. His health and delivery style are also worth paying attention to, as both could determine his status as a starting pitcher later down the road.

Fan-Sided: It’s too early to really predict what type of future Crouse has with the Texas Rangers, but it’s rather interesting nevertheless that he’s the guy MLB.com is pinning as a potential future closer for Texas.

Crouse is currently ranked by MLB as the Phillies’ No.4 prospect.  He has a quirky set of deliveries that the Phillies reigned in after acquisition.  I was surprised at his Command/Control rating having been impressed by his walk rates from high school thru the minors.  However, the scouting report unveils that he runs deep counts.  Hopefully, he can improve his C and C.