Consider: After this season, Tim Hudson will be 40 and at the end of his two-year contract. Tim Lincecum will become eligible for free agency. Ryan Vogelsong also will be contractually untethered. The Giants will be ready for Crick to fill one of the expected vacancies.
Mayo: Breaking down the Top 100 | Callis: Best tools in the Top 100
But will Crick be ready for the Giants? The 22-year-old's performance this season is likely to answer that question.
"He's not far away," said Bert Bradley, the Giants' coordinator of Minor League pitching. "His stuff will play in the big leagues, but he has to command the ball."
The annual ranking of baseball's Top 100 Prospects is assembled by MLBPipeline.com Draft and prospect experts Jonathan Mayo and Jim Callis, who compile input from industry sources, including scouts and scouting directors. It is based on analysis of players' skill sets, upsides, proximity to the Majors and potential immediate impact to their teams. The list, which is one of several prospect rankings on MLBPipeline.com's Prospect Watch, only includes players with rookie status in 2015. Team-by-team Top 30 Prospects lists for 2015 will be unveiled in March.
Crick is ranked No. 79 overall, down from 32nd a year ago. His 6-7 record with a 3.79 ERA in 23 games (22 starts) for San Francisco's Double-A Richmond affiliate last year did not connote greatness.
But when Crick throws his fastball, which regularly travels between 95-97 mph, expectations rise.
"He started out pretty rough, really struggling to command the ball," Bradley said, explaining the right-hander's uneven 2014 campaign. "In the second half of the season, he started pitching shorter stints and his curveball got better, his changeup got better and his command overall got better, for the most part."
As is the case with most developing pitchers, Crick must become able to repeat his pitching motion, which is the source of all consistency.
"He has to mature a little bit," Bradley said. "He still thinks that when he gets in trouble, he has to throw harder. He has to learn not to change the tempo of his delivery."
San Francisco's "sandwich" pick (49th overall) in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft, Crick immediately was regarded as a prime candidate to continue the lineage of homegrown starters who have excelled for the Giants, most notably Lincecum, Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner. Among those who maintained this belief was Crick, which impeded his progress.
"Last year he got too comfortable, with his status and all that," Bradley said of Crick, who will be in big league camp for the second spring in a row. "I think after the way his season started out last year, I think he'll go in there with a different mindset this year. ... He's been around long enough, I expect this year will be the one in which he puts it all together."