Right-hander Wil Crowe was able to pitch in nine games in 2017 for the first time at the pro level. The former South Carolina standout had Tommy John surgery in 2015, so after getting his feet wet with the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League Nationals and short-season Single-A Auburn Doubledays last season, Crowe is ready to take the next step in the rehab process.
Crowe joined the Nationals after 14 regular season starts and 90-plus innings with the Gamecocks. Nationals pitching coordinator Paul Menhart said they wanted to be extremely careful with their second-round selection in the 2017 First-Year Player Draft to make sure he wasn’t overworked.
“Wil had a bunch of innings last year, so we limited him big time in Auburn to short stints just to get him used to playing pro ball,” Menhart said. “We will probably be a little cautious with him only because he’s had some arm issues in the past. I can’t give you a hard number by any means, but we’re not going to over stretch him. He’s going to be taken care of just like we take care of everybody else. I’m not going to say we’re going to limit his innings, but there will be a cap for sure.”
The advantage the 6-foot-2, 240 lb. Crowe had this spring training in West Palm Beach was that he lived close to the FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, so it was easy for him to work out at the facility all winter.
“He had a much-needed offseason,” Menhart said. “He actually lived close to the complex here, so he was in here religiously, getting his work done, and got to hang out with some big leaguers that were in here to, especially early January. He has shown why he was a second-round pick, that’s for sure, early on.
“We give offseason throwing programs and mound progressions to everybody, but with Crowe we know exactly what he did because he was here with (Nationals rehab pitching coordinator Mark) Grater,” Menhart said. “He was monitored every day during the week and followed that program to a T. He looks very good right now. He looks healthy, sharp and ready to go.”
This season will mark three full years away from Tommy John surgery for Crowe. Usually for pitchers returning from surgeries or injuries that keep them out for an extended period of time, that first full healthy season they will range in the 100-120 innings area. Expect that kind of workload for Crowe in 2018.