Surprise! Surprise! Surprise! Highly touted shortstop J.P. Crawford ranks here as the Phillies’ top prospect on our annual Prospect Nation countdown.
Regarded widely as the Phils’ star of the future, Crawford also sits among many outlets’ top minor leaguers across the entire sport.
After he was selected by the Phillies 16th overall out of Lakewood High School (CA) in the 2013 draft, Crawford joined the Phillies system and quickly proved to be among the organization’s most talented young players.
Upon making his minor league debut as an 18-year-old with the rookie level Gulf Coast League Phillies, Crawford was greatly impressive. He was tops in the GCL in batting for a considerable stretch, posting a .345 average with a homer, 19 RBI and 12 stolen bases through 39 games. To wrap up the regular season, he was promoted up two levels to Class A full season Lakewood.
As a member of the BlueClaws in the South Atlantic League, Crawford handled the jump well for a youngster that was playing high school ball just three months earlier. He sported a .208 average with a double, two RBI and two stolen bases in 14 contests.
Crawford would open the 2014 campaign back with Lakewood and showed a great deal of progress. In 60 games for the BlueClaws, he sported a .295 average with three home runs, 19 RBI and 14 steals. After he was honored as a Sally League All-Star, a promotion to Class A Advanced Clearwater was in order.
With the Threshers in 63 games, Crawford tallied a .275 batting average along with eight homers, 29 RBI and 10 stolen bases, en route to being named the top positional prospect in the Florida State League by Baseball America. He also represented the Phillies in the MLB All-Star Futures Game that year.
Last season, Crawford missed the opening few weeks with an oblique strain. Once the California native was healthy, he was activated for the Threshers. In 21 games in the FSL he batted .392 with a home run, eight RBI and five steals. Proving worthy of another promotion, Crawford moved up to Double-A Reading, where he was able to handle, as a 20-year-old, the older and more experienced competition, posting a .265/.354/.407 slash line in 86 games for the Fightins. He earned a spot as an Eastern League All-Star, but skipped the event to again head to the Futures Game.
This off-season, following a 3-for-20 start in five games, Crawford left the prominent Arizona Fall League with a small tear in his thumb, but after he posted footage recently of himself taking batting practice on Instagram, there’s no doubt that he is back to full health and his ready for his first big league spring training later this month.
The hit tool is key for Crawford, who has quick hands and an ability to drive the ball to all fields. He features raw power and can lay down an occasional bunt. Situational hitting and moving runners over are areas that Crawford has excelled at. There isn’t anything lacking for him at the plate.
With a very athletic frame, the six-foot-two 180-pounder could still add muscle and increase his power even more.
Defensively, Crawford features very good range and has a strong, accurate arm with a quick release. He is able to make challenging plays look routine, can turn double plays with the best of them and is more than dependable at shortstop.
On the bases, Crawford, sporting a lean build and long strides, has very good speed. His 68% success rate in stolen base attempts as a pro will continue to climb as he reaches higher levels and has more coaches to work with to be a threat on the bases.
The ceiling for Crawford is very high. He thrives on high-pressure spots and will fit in well at the big league level some day soon. He looks to be a catalyst for the team’s lineup for years to come and could very well become a perennial All-Star.
Crawford could open the season back with Reading in 2016, but should be seeing action at the Triple-A level before long, if things go well. Some experts feel Crawford will be a sure thing to be called up to the majors this season, but at 21-years-old for the entire year, development is key and there will be no rush for him to make a debut at the major league level. I’ll say look for him to rock the Phillies’ red pin stripes in 2017 or maybe as a September call-up this year, following the minor league season.
Review this year’s full prospect countdown by clicking this link.