The Boss of Barrels

Justin Goetz
PBR Georgia Assistant Scouting Director

The Maker of Moon Shots, Boss of Barrels, Pennsylvania Punisher, Dropper of Biscuits. These were all nicknames thought of for Pete Craska for this article and our coverage of him this spring at Mt. Paran School, he just likes to go by Petey though. The Georgia Tech commit just keeps it humble and hilarious with his teammates, letting his lefty bat create stories of legend. When a player with this quality of raw power and hitting prowess comes across your path, it’s important to take notice.

Saturday, October 1st at the PBR Fall World Series, was one of the rarest displays of raw power I’ve ever seen in a HS hitter. He took a mid 80’s LHP to Mars with a towering 101 EV shot to RF. The umpire whipped up the HR signal almost immediately after it left the bat. This ball was hit so high and far that It looked like a pebble in the sky. After looking over & over at the video I still have no clue where it landed, neither do most of the spectators at Field 13. His 2nd AB, he hit the ball even further. Although it was foul, this ball went completely off the property! It was hit at 104 EV and went deep into the forest on the next field over (Field 14), well over 400 ft with wood. Just another day for Petey.

Craska is originally from Mars, PA in Pittsburgh Steelers country. This is an area known for hard work, toughness and great athletes. It’s also an area with a large community of Polish culture. When I found out Pete and his family were of Polish descent like me, it was exciting. There are a few MLB legends with the same origins who are known for hitting bombs - Greg “The Bull” Luzinski who was a 4x All-Star known for having the most raw power in the league, 4x All Star lefty power bat Ted Kluszewski, Carl Yazstremski the 18x All-Star and Hall of Famer, and Pirates HOF Bill Mazeroski (born in Pittsburgh). Polish athletes are notoriously known for their pure strength & raw power, such as 5 time World’s Strongest Man - Mariusz Pudzianowski.

The 6 foot 2, 250 pounder has the build of a powerlifter and the swing mechanics of a pure hitter. When getting the first look at him offensively, some might assume he’s got an “all or nothing” approach at the plate. This couldn’t be further from the truth. He has very impressive plate discipline and routinely hits the ball where it’s pitched, showing just as much raw power oppo/dead center as he does pull side. He’s proven himself against quality arms for years now, including two big tournaments at LakePoint in the past few months.

Although a constant threat to take any arm in the country deep with current top of the scale raw power, Craska will happily force pitchers into deep counts until they make a mistake. Think you can get him to chase breaking balls? Think again. This dude chuckles at nasty SL & CB’s out of the zone, just pray you don’t hang one.

What sold me most on this beast was his ability and discipline to hit line drive singles/doubles to left field. High level arms don’t challenge him too often, so he’s learned at a young age how to adjust quickly to conservative pitching. His lower half direction works in a consistent line to the mound regardless of pitch location, keeping the barrel in the zone for an extended time. The still head allows him to track and adjust incredibly well to the outer half underway, subtly angling his hips & shoulder to LF just before landing. This allows him to attack the pitch just in front of the plate before it gets too deep, giving him more field to work with and creating even more force thru contact.

Swing Mechanics

Tall open stance that allows him to track the baseball with both eyes and gain aggressive ground underway. Quiet rhythm in lower half, creating effortless pace for the hips to roll back. This pace allows the hips to touch & go off the backside, timing up the pitcher’s delivery without getting stuck and keeping him closer to the center of balance (back knee stays well inside back foot). Slow flow in the hands from one compact spot - they start loading in perfect rhythm with the hips only as they move forward in stride.

Notice how he gradually/slowly squares up his hips and shoulders during stride, only squaring up fully as he’s near landing with the chest closed. The late development of this move allows him to stay on the baseball longer instead of squaring up too early and losing stretch in separation, as well as linear connection post landing. It's important to realize how his hips stride for him, with his front foot only being used to catch his landing. This is the key to minimizing head movement while creating aggressive momentum while gaining ground. Craska doesn’t just get his power from brute strength! He gets it from athleticism, momentum, perfect direction, and front side leverage.

His hands flow like water in & out of launch position, keeping the hitting muscles loose & quick - creating easy bat speed and fluid rhythm. He repeats a perfect angle in launch position at an extremely high level, which creates his lofty swing path before it even happens. As the hands are thrown, his barrel lays back off the back shoulder perfectly. This creates a short, knob led path with balanced hands - allowing the back elbow to tuck, creating a linear connection where everything fires/rotates together (hands, back elbow, back hip, back knee in vertical line). The hands work close to the body from start to finish, allowing Pete to manipulate the barrel to any pitch in any zone suddenly. His knees pull toward each other, with the front knee locking out just as he works through contact, centralizing every bit of force he has.

Scouting Report

Future every day 1B/DH with the ability to carry an offense for games at a time, and create instant power production when the lineup is stalling. Will hit for average, power, and get on base at a consistent clip with standout plate discipline & impressive pitch recognition. Infectious personality and love for the game will be an asset to any clubhouse.

Future Tools (based off MLB scouting scale)

Hit - Solid Avg (hard contact to all fields). Raw Power - Excellent (top of scale, all fields juice).

Field - Fringe Avg (solid footwork, hands). Throw - Avg (accurate throws on line).

Separators - Bat Speed, Raw Power, Plate Discipline, Pitch Recognition. Comp - Justin Bour.

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