With the Phillies’ 2013 first round pick, J.P. Crawford en route to Philadelphia, jotting some ink on his first professional contract seems inevitable. What has become somewhat of a ceremonial signing for 1st rounders, which typically includes the player taking batting practice and/or putting himself on display to the media, seems to be in the near future for the 18-year-old Lakewood High School (CA) product that was taken with the 16th overall pick in the MLB draft less than two weeks ago.
With the excitement level picking up for Crawford to join the Phils organization, I spoke with one of his closest friends, Shane Watson, who was selected with the Phillies’ first pick in the 2012 draft. The two players grew up together, playing tee ball on the same team and being by each other’s side through high school ball until Watson turned pro last year.
Now, the two “brothers” seem to be more excited than any pair of ball players you might come across. I spoke with Shane over the weekend and he offered his thoughts on the guy that will soon be the newest addition to the Phillies family. Read ahead for that interview.
– In your playing days, I know you guys came up on the same tee ball league team together and played at the same high school, but through all those years in youth ball, I imagine that you two would have faced each other at some point.
Yeah, a couple times in, like, intrasquad games, for high school, we would face each other and I think it was a draw. I know once he hit a dribbler back to me and then another time I walked him. So, we came out even and it was a draw, I think. We both got the best of one another one time. That was about it, though, from what I remember.
– And obviously, you got to see him play a considerable amount. So, how would you describe his strengths out there on the field?
I would say there’s not too many holes in his swing. I mean, it’s kind of hard to pitch to him. He’s one of those guys where he can handle pressure. He’s gonna play hard. He’s a Lakewood (High School) guy. All of us pride ourselves on playing really hard, playing with lots of heart and getting after it. So, he’s gonna do that, no matter what.
I want to let the Phillie fans know he’s going to play his heart out for them. He can run, he’s fast and he’s an all around good player.
– When J.P. was selected with the Phils’ first pick this year, just as you were last year, what sort of advice did your provide him?
Just pretty much, be ready to play every day, because it’s a grind. In high school we play two games a week and four games, sometimes, is a lot for high school. Now, going to pro ball, playing every single day, especially, is the big change.
I said, “Alight, bro, it’s really hot and the hotels are gonna suck.” So, I mean, the players that don’t like it play better. That’s what pitchers keep telling me, on my team. It’ll make them play better, hoping to move up.
I kind of told him enjoy the experience and enjoy the family before he gets going. It’s just a grind to play every day.
– Right off the bat, once J.P. signs, no one would expect you guys to be on the same roster right away, but what would your excitement level be to actually be place on the same pro roster at some point?
It’s been crazy. Hopefully, we won’t be on the same roster for a while. Because I don’t want to be down a level that I don’t want to be at. But, it’s cool. I think in (fall instructional league) we’ll be together on the team, on the roster maybe. I’m guessing, but, yeah, I was talking to my actual brother, Scotty, I was talking to him, and he talked about planning barbecues at (J.P.’s) house, him coming to barbecues at our house and just to be drafted by the same team is pretty crazy, I think.
– When the signing is official, clearly J.P. will make some phone calls. Which number phone call do you think you will be?
I’m not sure. I think, like, going from draft night, right after he talked to the lady on TV, and talked about me a little bit, he called right after and said, “Hey, bro. I love you.” And threw a little stuff in there. So, I imagine I’d be up there. He’ll probably just call his family and then, I’ll probably be one of the first friends he calls. Either way, man, we’re like brothers. It’s crazy to get picked by the same team. I can’t explain it.
– The first half of the South Atlantic League season wraps up here this weekend and the BlueClaws will host the game. For those players not representing the team in that contest, yourself included, will you hang around New Jersey for the break, or will you head home to enjoy some time off?
I am personally going home. I am flying out of Hagerstown Monday morning and going back to California. A couple guys are going to New York. Some guys are going to Philly. I don’t really know where everybody’s going, but the main thing, I think every one’s going home for a break, really.