When Evan Meek struggled again last night, Clint Hurdle didn’t hesitate to go to Michael Crotta. The 6’6″ right hander got the job done. Again.
But who the hell is Michael Crotta you ask? Crotta is another example of why drafting and developing players is so important. Pirates fans should realize that Bob Nutting doesn’t have a money tree to overpay relievers from, the Bucs need to develop their own arms in the minors.
Crotta is a David Littlefield draft selection who did little under that regime. Crotta has shined since working solely in the bullpen and with the new Buccos staff.
Crotta was a 17th-round draft pick by David Littlefield out of Florida Atlantic back in 2006. He wasn’t exactly impressive during his minor league time. He dominated at times and other times was entirely hittable. Crotta was actually Rule 5 eligible in 2009 after spending time in the Altoona Curve rotation, but wasn’t selected.
The Pirates brass added Crotta to the 40-man after the 2010 season, despite not so impressive numbers in Indianapolis. Crotta had started last season strong in Altoona [25.1IP, 14H, 1.78ERA, .671WHIP, 5.7K/9] and was promoted to Indy, but after the season was done and the numbers added up, the main thought was mehh….nearly five runs per game over 131.1 innings, 6.1 K/9 and a high walk rate of 2.5BB/9.
So why in the world was Crotta added to the 40-man and given a shot in spring training? We saw the reason in his two appearances this season. Crotta throws strikes and Crotta throws strikes low in the zone. He has been able to throw a heavy sinker and get ground ball outs.
That combination is lethal out of the bullpen. Sure it’s just two games, but do you remember the ineffectiveness from the Pirates bullpen early last season? Octavio Dotel struggled, Brendan Donnelly was so bad, he pitched himself off the team.
It’s just the opposite of what Michael Crotta has done.
Crotta talks about his preparation with Colin Dunlap of the PG.
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Brooks Baseball: Crotta from last night against the Cardinals