The 3rd Man In

Matt Crohan looks to build on last season

Every time Matt Crohan took the mound in his senior season of high school, scouts were on hand to observe the left-handed pitcher.

A New York native, Crohan finished the season with a 6-1 record, 104 strikeouts and a 0.64 ERA in 47 innings. He also threw two no-hitters, a one-hitter, and a two-hitter, while holding opposing batters to a .060 batting average.

He had the potential and projectability to be an early round selection in the 2013 MLB First-Year Draft, however Crohan never heard his name called on draft day.

Teams were unwilling to meet Crohan’s signing bonus demand and passed on him. With professional baseball not being an option out of high school, Crohan honored his commitment and attended Winthrop in the fall of 2013.

“I knew being from New York that I wanted to get out of the cold weather,” Crohan said. “Going through the recruiting process, Winthrop pitching coach Clint Chrysler was pretty much there every step of the way and showed me how interested they were in me.

“They were putting faith in me to come down here and do a job for them. That connection really built up. I loved the area too.”

A coveted recruit coming out of high school, people expected Crohan to produce at a high level in his freshman season at Winthrop.

However, Crohan faced some adversity and struggled at times adjusting to the college game. He finished his freshman season with a 1-4 record and a 4.37 ERA, while opposing batters hit .317 against him in 35 innings.

“The speed of the game (was the biggest transition),” Crohan said. “I didn’t have much secondary stuff. New York baseball isn’t exactly the strongest competition where I was playing at. I got away with a fastball that I didn’t have to locate at all.

“I came down here and I learned that a fastball can get turned around and that you have to be able to mix it up.”

Crohan made strides his sophomore season, being used exclusively as a starter, going 7-4 with a 3.05 ERA, while opposing batters hit .220 off of him in 76 2/3 innings.

“It was more of an attitude that I wasn’t going to let that happen again,” Crohan said of the difference between his first two seasons. “I went into that offseason with a big chip on my shoulder. I never experienced that type of failure with baseball. I knew I didn’t want to experience that. That offseason I went about my business and did more than I had ever done before.”

Besides putting together an improved sophomore season, Crohan also pitched for USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team, where he held his own against top-level competition.

“It was incredible,” Crohan said of playing for Team USA. “Going out with those guys and being able to compete with the best players in the country was awesome. I’m just thankful for the opportunity.”

Crohan’s performance last year has scouts buzzing of his potential, and he’s now regarded as one of the top pitching prospects in June’s MLB Draft.

A 6-foot-4, 215-pound left-hander, Crohan has impressive stuff that is headlined by a mid-90s fastball. His changeup and slider continue to be a work in progress, but are already respectable offerings.

Now a junior at Winthrop, Crohan is hoping to be an All-American this season. If he can live up to his expectations and show improvement on his repertoire, he will have a shot at being an early round selection in this year’s draft.

Baseball America ranks Crohan as the 31st college prospect on their top draft prospects list.

Crohan isn’t worried about what the future has in store for him. Instead, Crohan, who is the Big South Conference Preseason Pitcher of the Year, is focused on helping Winthrop make the NCAA Tournament.

Winthrop is coming off of a 40-19 season and is predicted to finish second in the Big South Conference this season.

“I want to make sure this team gets to a regional,” Crohan said. “I want to be able to compete at that stage. I look at it is that we are getting the attention and we are right where we want to be. Hopefully, we can get hot at the right time and carry that into the NCAA Tournament.”

Update 5/23/16: Read my follow-up interview with Crohan here.

You can find more MLB Draft coverage here.

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