Nats acquire LHP Ian Krol to complete Morse deal
The Nationals already came out ahead inthe Michael Morse trade, acquiring two righties with upside in AJ Cole and Blake Treinen. On Wednesday, they added to the previous bounty when the player to be named later was named: LHP Ian Krol. The lefty, who was once lauded by prospect gurus Kevin Goldstein and Keith Law in 2010, has fought through some self-inflicted drama as well as some minor injuries since then; the Nationals are picking him up in hopes that he'll continue to be “a joy to watch” as Goldstein mentioned and will build upon his solid 2012 season.
Krol is a pitcher, not a thrower. His mechanics are excellent, throwing from a ¾ arm slot, and he has no issues locating his three pitches. Like former Nats prospects Tommy Milone and Danny Rosenbaum, Krol lacks velocity, topping out at 90-91 MPH. In order to keep climbing up the ladder, he must continue to exhibit excellent command on the hill and induce ground balls. Krol is mentioned all the time as being a fierce competitor with a feel for pitching that is much more mature than most others. He's not afraid to attack batters inside, and uses his above average changeup and excellent curveball (called “demoralizing” by the clever Ryan Sullivan of NatsGM) to make up for his fastball velocity deficiency.
Statistically, Krol has one excellent season under his belt (2010), two incomplete years (2009 and 2011) and one mediocre one (2012). It's difficult to draw conclusions from his 2012 season, where he went 2-9 with a 5.20 ERA in 97 innings; Krol pitched almost all of his innings in an extreme hitters' league and was coming off of a 2011 season where he only threw 5 innings. His ground ball tendencies make him unlikely to allow the 1.2 HR/9 he gave up in 2012 again in the future, and his 3.42 K/BB ratio remained excellent. This makes him a likely bounce-back candidate in 2013.
While some people are concerned with Krol's makeup, it appears that he has grown up a lot since tweeting out a homophobic slur that led to a 2 month suspension in 2011. His high school suspension due to being in the presence of alcohol is something I can't fault him for (we all were teenagers at some point), and would be completely forgotten if controversy hadn't have struck in again later on (for example, nobody mentions Tyler Clippard's high school DUI anymore). As long as Krol is a model citizen in the Nats organization, it is fair to forgive and forget the 21 year old's past issues.
Krol's accolades in his four seasons with the A's organization are impressive. He won the club's minor league pitcher of the year award in 2010 and was recognized that offseason by Baseball America as having the best curveball and control in the A's system. This is not the first time Mike Rizzo has targeted a pitcher from a colder weather area. Krol, a Chicago-area native joins Major League success stories such as Jordan Zimmernann (Wisconsin), Ross Detwiler (Missouri), Aaron Crow (Missouri, didn't sign). Krol is a fairly known quantity at this point and can become a Major League pitcher by keeping the ball on the ground and not walking batters.