Repeatable mechanics is probably at the top of the list of requirements for any great pitcher.
“Different doesn’t always mean worse, or bad,” said Jono Armold, the Spokane Indians pitching coach. “For me, that’s part of who he is—that’s the individual that is Hans Crouse.”
Spokane Indians pitcher Hans Crouse has not one, not two but three different deliveries to keep batters off balance in the box. The Indians 2017 second-round pick credits a couple of big leaguers for his variances on the mound.
Femi Abebefe / SWX
“I’ve been doing the Jonny Cueto shimmy ever since my junior year of high school,” Crouse said. “The [Daisuke Matsuzaka] over the head move, I picked up last year in Arizona. The other one is a side to the step and pause, just to throw hitters timing off and to give them another look.”
As a man of nuance, before you can fully understand Hans Crouse the pitcher, you have to understand Hans Crouse the person.
“The first time I caught him was in extended, and they were telling me he’s got some weird things that he does; but with his personality—it kind of fits him and who he is,” said Isaias Quiroz, the Spokane Indians catcher.
The 19-year-old Crouse is the number four prospect in the Texas Rangers organization, according to MLB.com. However he might be the quirkiest in his current clubhouse.
“I have to be out on the grass stretching 28 minutes before I get on the mound and do my thing,” Crouse said. “If it’s not 28 minutes before, it’s in my head.”
Coaching a pitcher with consistently inconsistent mechanics can be a hurdle for some coaches, but Armold sees it as a blessing in disguise.
“The most important part of hitting is timing, and pitching is upsetting timing,” Armold said. “If you can use your deliveries to manipulate that at the same time, I think it can only help you.”
Crouse’s three deliveries consistently keep batters guessing. In six starts, he has an ERA of 2.77 and is 3-1. With a wide range of deliveries to go to, there’s one in particular that serves as a mainstay—the Cueto shimmy.
“I just love the crowd’s reaction to it,” Crouse said. “They go crazy for it and it’s probably the one I’m most comfortable with to throw all my pitches with.”
It’s not just Armold who identifies the advantages, his teammates also feed off the energy.
“He’s one of those guys that keeps it loose in the clubhouse, especially for the pitching staff,” Quiroz said. “I think it’s big, sometimes things get a little uptight or things like that, and he just keeps it loose, and on the mound, that’s dude’s a competitor man.”
Which is why Armold immediately embraced Crouse’s unorthodox methods on the mound.
“The traditional pitching coach, or the olden day pitching coach and pitching coaches look at it and say ‘oh this isn’t what I’m used to seeing,’ Armold said. “For me, it was just okay, is he still going to be able to repeat his pitches and execute his pitches? And realistically that’s all we care about at the end of the day.”
This once in a lifetime opportunity, to play baseball for a living, has given Crouse the confidence to block out the naysayers.
“If people have a problem with the way I go about my different deliveries and stuff like that, I’m just going to keep doing what’s in my best interest and what’s winning for my teammates behind me,” Crouse said.
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