Lancaster, California —— It’s tough to pitch in the California League, and doubly tough to do it in Lancaster where the wind blows out incessantly and innocent pop-ups land on Highway 14 out past the right field wall. So contextualize Matt Krook a bit for his outing on Monday night, if only because it was his first in full-season ball, his first in High-A, his first in the California League, and his first introduction to the often-absurd brutality of The Hangar.
Above, you can see one of our videos of Matt Krook pitching for the San Jose Giants on Monday night; the San Francisco Giants prospect lasted just 1.1 innings in an ugly start: five hits (including a home run), four more walks, and seven runs charged. To make matters worse, he threw just 24 of his 50 pitches for strikes before Nestor Rojas pulled him in the second inning. An ugly first start in the Cal League all around, and a tough first impression.
Matt Krook scouting report notes
From the first pitch of his bullpen session before the game, Krook consistently missed high and arm-side with everything except his changeup, the result of inconsistent stride lengths, an arm lagging behind his body, and (as the product of those two) varied and funky release points. He didn’t find the plate much on Monday, and when he did, it caught middle-middle too often. He looked notably out of sync, and maybe that’s to be expected for a variety of reasons: the first start out of spring training, a relatively inexperienced pro making his first start in High-A ball, a tall and gangly guy trying to figure out how to get his arms and legs in sync, so on and so forth. He has a lot of moving parts, and he’s a tall, long, loose guy, so his delivery will always be something of a challenge to repeat.
Krook’s curve looks like it could develop into an above-average offering, but he couldn’t locate it over the plate on Monday without it ending up a cement mixer with little bite. He struggled to get his hand out in front of it, and too often it would spin out and end up in the left-handed batter’s box. His fastball also looks like it could be an above-average pitch when on, but in his start here, too many ran out of control into the arm-side (left-handed batter’s box) and too many more were grooved to the fat parts of the plate. The few good ones Krook did throw show late life: a bit of sink with a hard run very late to the plate.
On that note, hand it to him for this: absolutely everything he throws moves. A ton. I have no doubt that when he’s on, he’s something special, because he can cut and sink and break and run pretty much any pitch up there with late movement. As bad a night as he had on Monday, he threw a few changeups that dropped off the table and showed signs of advanced feel for that pitch relative to most guy at this level. He’s got a dream body type for a pitcher, and he’ll keep throwing innings and ironing things out in his mechanics. He’s had control issues in the past, so it seems like some of this may always be with him; Greg Maddux he is not, but can Matt Krook keep things in check just enough to find the balance between nasty and wild? That balance got the best of him on Monday, at least.
And yet, here’s a story: the first time I saw Oakland Athletics fringe prospect right-handed pitcher Brett Graves pitch on the road for the Stockton Ports in Bakersfield, he looked awful. I said as much in a report the next day. The editor ended up going with a title that had the phrase Brett Graves must show more than he has in it. Ouch.
Three months later, I saw Graves pitch again. This time it was on the road in High Desert—the only place more hitter-friendly than Lancaster in all of pro ball, and the kind of place any minor league hitter can legitimately dream hope to hit 30 bombs.
Graves tossed a one-hitter. If I remember correctly, only one ball left the infield. In High Desert!
The point is, there’s far more to Matt Krook than what I saw Monday, and I’m sure when I see him again in June or July he’ll throw seven shutout innings, or something. For now, let the guy get a few High-A starts under his belt before a more concrete judgment, but it is important to at least acknowledge (a) there’s a fascinating, projectable foundation here upon which the Giants could build, and (b) there’s still a TON of work left to do on the foundation itself.
Matt Krook scouting report video
We’ve got one of these videos up at the top of this post, but if you missed it, or if you’re reading on mobile, you can watch the two videos we got of Krook from his Monday start right here:
Matt Krook video — bullpen pre-game work
Matt Krook video — game-time mechanics (3B side)
Matt Krook scouting report GIFs
And just like the video, we like to drop GIFs from every player into our posts. See some of his pitch action, get a sense of his mechanics, share these like crazy on Twitter, the world is yours: