Baseball – 2022 MLB Draft Profile: Zach Crotchfelt, Jackson Memorial
Shore Conference 2022 MLB Draft Hopeful Profile
Zach Crotchfelt, LHP, Jackson Memorial
College Plans: Auburn University
HS Senior-Year Stats: 65.1 IP, 9-2, 1.18 ERA, 33 H, 30 BB, 130 K
Like a lot of high-school baseball player in the Class of 2022, Crotchfelt’s career statistics are suppressed by the cancelation of the 2020 season, which would have been the sophomore year for Crotchfelt and his fellow classmates around the country. Despite that, the Jackson Memorial graduate got in plenty of work over the last two seasons, particularly this past spring, when he finished third in the Shore Conference in innings and threw more than 100 pitches in each of his final eight starts.
The result was a second straight First-Team All-Shore selection by Shore Sports Network and 2022 SSN Pitcher of the Year Award. His 130 strikeouts were the most of any pitcher in the state and with his big arm and potent bat on offense (.359 with three homers and 27 RBI) leading the way, Jackson Memorial went 22-9 with championships in both the Shore Conference Class A South division race and the Ocean County Tournament. The Jaguars also reached the finals of the Shore Conference Tournament (with Crotchfelt on the mound) and lost in the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group IV semifinal to eventual Group IV champion Howell (with Crotchfelt not pitching).
Why Teams Like Him
Crotchfelt’s arm and stuff are legit, plus he is a left-hander. His fastball was up to 96 miles-per-hour this spring and he sat 91-93 in most of his starts while most often topping out at 94. He also showed the ability to throw a variation of secondary offerings: a two-seam fastball, a slider, a curveball and a changeup – all of which have the makings of legitimate secondary offerings down the line. Crotchfelt’s slider is ahead of his other secondaries on the moments, but scouts have been mostly pleased with the feel he has shown for the changeup at this stage of his development.
Although Crotchfelt has a large frame at 6-foot-5, he is athletic for his size and keeps himself in good physical condition. Although Jackson Memorial coach Pat George had the option of running for him with a courtesy runner during his starts, Crotchfelt ran for himself a vast majority of the time and was one of the Jaguars’ best base-runners. While his base-running won’t be part of his game anymore, that kind of athleticism never hurts at more advanced levels.
Why Teams Might Hesitate
Crotchfelt’s command is still a work in progress, and while his mechanics and long-term outlook are not too much of a concern in that department, the earlier the draft pick, the more teams will gravitate toward elite stuff, elite command, or some combination of the two. Crotchfel’s stuff is very good, though not elite at the moment and his command is solid, but also not exceptional at the moment. Both could develop enough for him to land in a Big-League rotation sometime in the next five or six years, but teams are looking for certainty or huge upside in the first four rounds.
Speaking of certainty, the other issue teams may have with selecting Crotchfelt – and, perhaps the main issue they will have – is whether or not they can sign him. Crotchfelt has made it clear he is excited about attending Auburn in the fall, and while some of that is likely just posturing to drive his potential signing bonus up, it’s a genuinely good option for him. Auburn is coming off an appearance in the College World Series and Crotchfelt is, arguably, the Tigers’ top pitching recruit in the 2023 Class. Everybody has their price and Crotchfelt’s raw ability will make plenty of teams think long and hard about finding a chunk of their bonus pool to get him in the organization, but pitching in the SEC is an extremely appealing option if teams won’t meet Crotchfelt’s desired number.
Mainstream evaluations on Crotchfelt vary – MLB.com and ESPN both rank him in the top 160 Draft prospects on their respective lists, while both Baseball America and Prospects Live have him outside the top 400 – so just on talent, he could go before the end of the third round. On the flip side, once the fifth round passes, the money on the table is not likely to be enough to convince him to sign, which means he could fall far – perhaps off the board entirely.
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