Top 50 Jays Prospects, Jays Journal Edition: #32 Michael Crouse

After Ryan Schimpf at #33 comes a Canadian outfielder at #32…

Image courtesy of the National Post

#32: Michael R. Crouse

Outfielder / 20 years old / 6′4″ 215 lbs

Born: November 22nd, 1990 in New Westminster, BC, Canada

Bats: Right    Throws: Right

High School Team: Centennial Centaurs

College Team: N/A

Drafted By: The Toronto Blue Jays in the 16th round (489th overall) of the 2008 First-Year-Player Draft and signed by Kevin Briand for $150,000

Jersey Number: #13 for the Lansing Lugnuts

Quick Facts:

  • Was on his computer back home in Canada when he was drafted, and saw his name pop up in the 16th round
  • His father Ray was a running back in the NFL for the Green Bay Packers and Kansas City Chiefs; he also played for the Calgary Stampeders and B.C. Lions in the Canadian Football League
  • His father is also currently a scout for the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers
  • Played for Team Canada in the 2008 Junior World Championship and made the tournament All-Star team along with newly acquired Jays prospect Brett Lawrie
  • You can follow him on Twitter
  • Respects New York Yankees 3B Alex Rodriguez and would love to have a conversation with him
  • If his career wasn’t as a baseball player, he’d try to become a professional football or basketball player, or pursue a career in business
Year Age Level G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG
2008 17 GCL 7 15 2 2 0 1 0 0 3 7 .133 .316 .267
2009 18 GCL 55 188 28 41 9 4 2 17 23 53 .218 .308 .340
2010 19 GCL/A 56 184 28 51 12 5 6 29 23 67 .277 .365 .495

GCL Blue Jays Team Stats Ranking for Michael Crouse (min. 4 GP):

  • Tied for 1st in triples (3) and home runs (4)
  • 2nd in RBI (20), total bases (57), batting average (.333), and OPS (.996)
  • 3rd in stolen bases (9), but ranked 1st in CS (6)
  • Tied for 3rd in runs (17)
  • 5th in hits (32) and OBP (.402)
  • 6th in doubles (7)

Interviews/Video:

With Lansing Lugnuts announcer Jesse Goldberg-Strassler:

  • Short interview with Gerry McDonald of battersbox.ca here

Extra Information and previous experience:

At first glance, Michael Crouse looks more like a football player instead of a baseball player. In fact, he was a football player up until he started high school before he decided to exclusively pursue a career in professional baseball.

Crouse is the definition of what “upside” means when associated with a player. When he was drafted, he got noticed because he was a strong overall athlete, but was considered somewhat of a developmental project. He is very raw, but has a lot of room for growth. His natural athletic ability and tall frame make him an average runner who is faster once he is underway, as he is a long strider. He resembles Arizona Diamondbacks center fielder Chris Young, but without the premium bat speed yet.

He initially started out as a middle infielder before a massive growth spurt in his teen years made him sprout up to 6’2″. Some scouts think that Crouse hasn’t stopped growing either. He shifted to the outfield as a result, and that has been where he has played ever since. Growing up in Port Moody, B.C., Crouse spent time in the British Columbia elite Premier League prior to being drafted by the Blue Jays, where fellow Canadians Justin Morneau, Jeff Francis, and current Jays prospect Adam Loewen all made appearances.

Crouse had an unbelievably busy 2008, where he played for Canada’s junior national team for the majority of it, and was drafted by the Blue Jays. He still managed to find time, once his Team Canada commitment was finished, to fit in 7 games with the Gulf Coast League Blue Jays and make his professional debut at only 17-years-old. It allowed him to get his feet wet and get familiar with his surroundings before he spent the entire 2009 season in the Gulf Coast League.

His results weren’t exactly jaw-dropping, as he mustered just a .218/.308/.340 line along with 2 HR and 17 RBI, but it was his first extended taste of professional baseball and he was still only 18-years old. The Blue Jays started to see glimpses of his speed too, as he hit 9 doubles, 4 triples, and stole 25 bases in 55 games with the GCL Blue Jays that season.

Not content with the results, Crouse spent the entire 2009-2010 offseason working out in Las Vegas with physical therapist Tim Soder, whose current Major League clients include former Blue Jay Reed Johnson, Aaron Rowand, and Mike Dunn. Crouse was interested in adding muscle to fill out his frame, but not at the expense of speed, so he wanted to be as smart as possible about his weight training.

The results from his offseason workouts, along with new adjustments to his hitting mechanics in Spring Training this year, have definitely paid off. He raked a .333/.402/.996 line along with 4 HR, 20 RBI, and 3 triples in only 28 games with the GCL Blue Jays to start the 2010 season, and the Jays were so impressed that they had him skip a stint in Lo-A with the Auburn Doubledays altogether and jump right to Class-A Lansing. Blue Jays assistant GM Tony LaCava justified this decision by saying:

“Mike has really made a lot of progress this year. We promoted him to Lansing to challenge him after he did so well in the GCL.”

He was definitely challenged in Lansing, but he wasn’t completely out of place either. In 28 games with the Lugnuts this season, Crouse hit .216/.327/.386 with 5 doubles, 2 triples, 2 home runs, and 5 stolen bases. Tony LaCava also had this to say near the end of the 2010 season about how the Blue Jays view Crouse:

“Mike is a very athletic kid that continues to get stronger. He has very good tools and those tools are starting to play. He is just scratching the surface. We are very pleased with his development.”

Expected 2011 Team: Lansing Lugnuts

Ultimate ceiling if he puts it all together: Everyday OF

Crouse will be only 20-years-old when he opens the 2011 season with Lansing, so he does have some room for error. That being said though, his ceiling is very high. His work ethic and upbringing have trained him to be smart, open to learning, and to work hard. His natural athleticism helps him be fast, have a quick bat, play the outfield effectively, and throw fairly well.

The tools are there, but to what degree they blossom into remains to be seen. He played as a center fielder for Team Canada, but currently plays as a right fielder in the Blue Jays’ Minor League system.

If he can reach his potential and maintain his speed out in the field, there’s no reason as to why he could not go back to being primarily a center fielder.

Whatever position he plays though, he will definitely be exciting to watch in 2011.

-JM

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“Mike has really made a lot of progress this year,” LaCava said. “We promoted him to Lansing to challenge him after he did so well in the GCL.”

Topics: Aaron Rowand, Adam Loewen, Alex Rodriguez, Arizona Diamondbacks, Brett Lawrie, Chris Young, GCL Blue Jays, Jeff Francis, Justin Morneau, Lansing Lugnuts, Michael Crouse, Mike Dunn, Reed Johnson, Toronto Blue Jays

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