From MC to Northwest League MVP: An Update on Blaine Crim/by Elliot Reeder
For four years, Blaine Crim was a star on the diamond for the Mississippi College baseball team. Even at the Division II level, Crim was playing well enough to earn some looks from Major League teams as his junior season at MC came to a close. Those first looks were from scouts for the Texas Rangers. Crim says he “did not think anything about it, because a lot of guys get looked at.” The scouting only ramped up from there. As he was playing out his senior season at MC, one in which he was named the Gulf South Conference Player of the Year, Crim says that 12-15 teams had scouted him or talked to him.
However, the team that scouted Crim the hardest and followed him the most intently throughout the entire process was the Rangers. Leading up to the 2019 MLB draft, the Rangers told Crim they would take him at the end of the second day of the draft, in the ninth or tenth rounds, but that did not happen. Crim said that was not surprised by not getting drafted as early as he had been told because that happens to many prospects. The Rangers ultimately pulled the trigger on Crim in the 19th round with the 565th pick of the draft.
Crim said that instead of the normal big draft watch party and big hoopla that a lot of prospects have, he just spent his draft day “following the draft on my iPad. I saw my name pop up. It was a great moment to be able to spend that moment and that time with just my family.”
Once Crim was drafted and signed, it was time for him to begin the Minor League grind. His first stop was in Arizona for the rookie level Arizona League. Crim only spent about a week in Arizona and only played in two games, he went 6 for 9 with two doubles. After that he went to Spokane to play for the Spokane Indians of the Northwest League. Spokane is the Class A short season minor league affiliate for the Rangers. Crim was shocked by the environment when he arrived in Spokane, “The first night I was there it was the home opener, there was like 7,500 people. I was kind of shocked by that, coming from college where there’s like 200 people, and Arizona where there was nobody at the games beside scouts and players.”
Crim says the biggest two adjustments when he got to Spokane were the pace of play and the overall talent level, “It’s a lot faster, and the talent is a lot better.” He added, “I did not see anything below 90 [miles per hour]. I saw SEC guys and Dominican guys.” He says at first it was difficult adjusting, but that he had a good coaching staff and resources available to him in Spokane. After the adjustment period was over, Crim was ready to take off, “One day it just kinda clicked, and everything changed after that.”
Not only did things change for the better for Crim, but he started to show out. For the season in Spokane, he batted .335 with 15 doubles and 8 home runs in 53 games. Those numbers led to Crim being named Northwest League MVP, a Northwest League all-star and a Classification all-star for the Class A short season.
Crim’s former coach and current Mississippi College head baseball coach Jeremy Haworth says he is not surprised by Crim’s success at the next level, saying, “It was not really that big of a surprise what he did in Spokane. I knew and believed in him, that he would have a lot of success. I think some people believe that being Division II or being at Mississippi College that he would not have that type of success, but he had been a special player here for four years. I just knew the way his work ethic is, the way his willingness to win at all costs was gonna help him at pro ball.”
Crim credits that mentality of winning at all costs that he learned at Mississippi College to his success in Spokane. Crim says that MC taught him the “big picture” of winning and going through the “process,” and that he “just had to fine tune a few small things, and that’s where the Rangers came in.”
When Crim was in high school, the MLB draft seemed an impossibility. Especially once he was failing to receive looks and offers from some of the bigger and more successful baseball programs in the Southeast. Once in college at MC, Crim was not focused on getting drafted; he was just focused on being the “best college baseball player I could be.”
Once the recognition and awards began rolling in for Crim, he was “shocked. That was crazy. I went from not even knowing if I was going to get drafted to winning some of those rewards. It was not a goal for mine; I didn’t know what to expect. I was just going to do whatever it took. Those rewards were extremely shocking. I had a very talented team that helped me out. A lot of things fell into place. Those rewards were definitely something that were really cool for me to receive. Now I have something attached to my name; now I do have expectations.”
Crim says that he flew under the radar with no expectations when he got to Spokane due to being a lower draft pick. Crim says that being in college for four years helped him mature a lot before he got to pro ball. He says he has stepped up as a leader because he is not having to mature as much while also going through the grind of being a minor leaguer.
Speaking of the grind, in Spokane, Crim’s normal home game day would usually start around noon. Not every player on the team had a car, so they would have to carpool to the team facility. They would have lunch provided for them there. They would then have individual hitting and defensive drills for a few hours before getting a small break before normal practice would begin around 4:00 p.m. After practice, they would have a small amount of time off before pregame stretching and eventually the game. If they had a home game the next day, the team would just go home and get ready to start the next day over again. If they had a road game the next day, they would have their stuff already packed at the facility and would leave from there to head to whatever town their next game was in. Crim says that they would also work out and lift weights at local gyms depending on whether they were at home or on the road.
Crim’s favorite memory so far after his first minor league season was playing a big role and helping Spokane win the title for the first half of the Northwest League season. Spokane had a big series against the team they were competing against, and they were able to pick up the victories needed to clinch. Crim says the team was then able to celebrate in downtown Seattle.
Up next for Crim is a possible promotion to full-season A-ball for next season. Crim will spend most of the offseason here at Mississippi College. He will be doing drills to improve, he will be working out with the Mississippi College strength and conditioning staff, and he will be helping out the MC baseball program. Coach Haworth believes that having Blaine around will be a huge benefit for his baseball program. Crim says that he “knows what he needs to do this offseason.”
Crim has already impressed in his first short season in the Minor Leagues, but he is only a part of the way through the full minor league grind. He is a far way away from making it to the Major Leagues, but he is definitely closer to making it than he was a few months ago.