There's only one way to start a profile of Hans Crouse. TO THE GIF!
Yup, it's going to be one of those days here at Baseball Texas. Strap yourself in and feel the Gs.
Crouse isn't just the Rangers top pitching prospect, he's a unicorn for the organization. Texas isn't used to having a standout young star on the mound like Crouse in the making. Oh sure they've developed major league starters like Derek Holland and Martin Perez. They've even developed mega velo guys like Keone Kela, Jose LeClerc, and others. What they've yet to create is the unadulterated swag monster currently striking out hitters for Spokane - more on that later.
The gif above wasn't convincing enough? OK, fine.
Every year Spokane does a meet the team event where the players and fans connect. When it came time for Crouse to introduce himself for the first time, he did this:
'“Hi, I’m Hans Crouse,” the third-ranked Texas Rangers prospect said into the microphone during player introductions. “And I’ll be bringing that gasoline.”'
Thanks to the Spokane Review for that wonderful nugget. Crouse has made good on that promise, with 47 Ks and only 11 walks in 38 innings this season. The 19 year old righty does it with a mid-to-high 90s fastball which regularly sees 97 and 98, a slider that is a few refinements away from becoming a plus strikeout pitch but has already confounded most hitters in the Northwest League, and a changeup that needs work.
In two outings among his eight starts for Spokane, Crouse had games where he struck out 11 and 12 batters while walking zero in each. Needless to say, when Crouse is on, he's virtually unhittable in these lower levels of the minor leagues. In fact, over his minor league career spanning 58 innings, Crouse has held opponents to a .157 batting average while sporting a sparkling 0.86 WHIP.
But, like I said above though, the importance of Crouse isn't just the petrol pitching he's put up so far. It's all the other things that make him special.
Things like wearing different colored shoes on Star Wars night to represent different sides of the galactic struggle of good and evil.
Things like cheesing with this teddy bear before a game.
Things like doing the shimmy IN AN ACTUAL PRO BALLGAME THAT'S RIGHT IT HAPPENED!
There are plenty of other things to demonstrate the unique nature of Texas' OPEC enthusiast, but here's why any of it matters: In a game devoid of stars, Crouse shines like a supernova waiting to be displayed.
Baseball needs Hans Crouse. Baseball really needs about a thousand Hans Crouses, but it has one and that'll have to do for now. Crouse has the opportunity to become a singular entity unto himself as long as the ship stays right. His combination of talent, swagger, and a lack of inhibition in combining the two is something the league so sorely needs.
Just look at the situation at the top. MLB's commissioner and C level video game villain Rob Manfred recently feuded with the game's best player and crash test dummy doppleganger Mike Trout because nobody knows who Trout is. Bryce Harper is about to cash in on a huge free agent deal, but a voodoo ritual swapped his and Rougned Odor's talents sometime during the offseason. Even then, he's stuck in Washington where the most famous thing he's done was get choked by an overgrown frat boy.
Jose Altuve's main quality is being short, Carlos Correa is too quiet, Clayton Kershaw is too hurt and playoff disappointing-y, the list goes on and on with players who should be stars yet aren't. There's a lot of blame to go around, mainly on the league that sends Barney Fife after every Twitter account that dare post a gif while thinking “social media innovation” is a weekly game on Facebook.
What is undeniable however is that while baseball has never been more replete with elite talent said talent is boring. Their charisma and showmanship is beaten out of them, either by overbearing PR people or their fellow players when they show too much of it on the field. There's no flair, no spark, no panache to get fans into the building 162 times a year.
Which brings us back to our hope. Rooting for Hans Crouse's success isn't just hoping the Rangers break their pitching development cure, though that would be nice. It represents a potential glass ceiling breaking for players to show off and be weird and fun. It's an opportunity for theatrics and excitement to enter the game in the era of attention span shortness and create a player personalities. Crouse isn't just the future of on field production.
He could be the future of baseball if they let him.
UPDATE: Hans' immediate future will be in North Carolina as it was announced while this profile was being published that he is heading to Low-A Hickory to finish off his 2018 campaign. Crouse's final appearance in the Northwest League came in Tuesday night's All-Star game where Crouse struck out two in a hitless, scoreless inning while throwing 100 MPH.
Up Next: No. 2 - Leody Taveras, OF
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Is Hans F. Crouse the Rangers' best hope at developing a top of the rotation starter? Share your thoughts with Samuel on Twitter @thesamuelhale.