Crick showing positive signs for GreenJackets

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After struggling early in the season, the top San Fran­cisco Giants prospect in Augusta finally found his footing Sunday.

Kyle Crick, the 49th overall pick in last year’s draft, got his first professional win as a starter thanks to six scoreless innings in Hagerstown, Md. The 19-year-old right-hander allowed just one hit and struck out eight.

“We knew that the potential is there,” manager Lipso Nava said. “The question is can he repeat his approach toward the game each time out. He’s a young guy with a lot of positives.”

Crick battled location problems through the first month of the season, averaging a walk per inning over his first three starts. He entered the week ranked second in the South Atlantic League with seven hit batters over 21 innings.

But the 6-foot-4 Texan hasn’t given up a run in his past two outings, a streak of 10 consecutive scoreless innings. He also leads the team with 27 strikeouts.

“Now he just has to go out and do the same thing over again,” Nava said. “There’s no question the tools are there.”

BACK TO BASICS: Another highly touted Giants prospect failed to convert at the plate over the first month of the season and will leave Augusta as a result.

Chuckie Jones, a seventh-round pick in 2010, was placed on the extended spring training list Sunday and is expected to leave the team once it returns from its road trip this week.

“He’s going to go to Fresno first to get some extra work,” Nava said.

Jones isn’t expected to be placed on the Triple-A Fresno roster but will receive instruction with the Grizzlies before returning to the organization’s spring training headquarters in Arizona.

Jones was given time off last month after posting a .090 batting average with 37 strikeouts through the first 18 games. He returned to the starting lineup April 30 but went 2 for 17 with six strikeouts in five games.

“The tools are there, but you still have to deal with the mental outcome of the game,” Nava said. “It’s a grind and can be tough to stay mentally focused. (Jones) is an athlete and has a chance to be a big-time player.”

Entering Monday’s play, Jones had a league-worst .093 batting average with 44 strikeouts in 23 games.

TEAM EFFORT: Jones hasn’t been the only GreenJacket struggling at the plate. The team wrapped up Sunday’s game ranked last in the league with a .213 batting average.

The GreenJackets also ranked at the bottom of the 14-team league in hits (199), doubles (35), home runs (11), RBI (93), total bases (279), on base percentage (.292) and slugging percentage (.299).

FULL SCHEDULE: The Green­Jackets will wrap up a seven-game road trip with a morning game today at 10:35 in Hagerstown. The team will return to Augusta for a scheduled day off Wednesday before beginning an eight-game homestand Thursday.

The weeklong stop in Augus­­ta will include a doubleheader Friday to make up for a rainout in Greenville three weeks ago. The doubleheader will include the annual Bark in the Park Night, which will open Lake Olmstead Stadium to pet dogs.

The five-game series with Greenville will also feature Pink in the Park Night on Saturday with a postgame fireworks show.

The Rome Braves will come to town for a three-game series starting Monday.

PERSPECTIVE: Though Nava and his players have expressed frustration with their slow start to the season, they haven’t fared much worse than past Augusta teams. The squad managed 13 wins through the first 28 games, a feat topped only once in Augusta over the past four years.

The 2011 and 2009 teams needed 35 games to hit the 13-win mark, while the 2008 team matched the effort with a 13-15 record. The 2010 team posted a 13-10 mark.

The GreenJackets finished the season above .500 every year since 2005.


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