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Once the face of a rebuild, J.P. Crawford’s Phillies tenure ends without payoff on potential

J.P. Crawford didn’t reach his potential while in the Phillies organization. (Peetlesnumber1/Flickr)

Lost in the excitement of Monday’s trade where the Philadelphia Phillies acquired two-time All-Star shortstop Jean Segura from the Seattle Mariners was another storyline: the club moved on from longtime top prospect J.P. Crawford in the deal.

The deal is widely seen as a win for the Phillies as they acquire a good player in Segura and move on from Carlos Santana, allowing Rhys Hoskins move back to first base. Crawford was expected to be the everyday shortstop in 2018 with Freddy Galvis being traded away, but because of two separate injuries, he only managed to play in 49 games. Crawford hit .214 with only two home runs in that span. The Phillies may have become concerned with Crawford’s long-term health and production, so they felt it was a better option to trade him for a proven player. Even proposing such an idea would have been seen as sacrilegious just a few years ago.

Crawford was seen as a franchise centerpiece since the time he was drafted in the first round of 2013. Drafting Crawford was a significant move for the Phillies in 2013. They were in the midst of their first losing season since 2006 and a rebuild seemed inevitable. Part of that rebuild would be moving on from franchise icon Jimmy Rollins. With Rollins being sent to the Los Angeles Dodgers after the 2013 season, fans turned to their 2013 first-round pick as the savior of the franchise. The teenager soon became a fan-favorite, all while being in Single-A.

The hype for Crawford was real; he had an advanced approach at the plate and showed great athleticism. Scouts agreed and ranked him as the Phillies No. 1 prospect from 2013 to 2017. He was ranked ahead of Aaron Nola, Rhys Hoskins and 2016 first overall pick Mickey Moniak. That’s how highly though of he was. On a league-wide scale, Crawford reached as high as the second best prospect in all of baseball. Crawford performed well in the lower levels of the minors, but he was underwhelming when he was promoted to Reading midway through 2015, hitting .265. 2016 was worse, as he hit .250, but the Phillies continued to challenge Crawford and moved him to Triple-A in May of 2016.

Crawford finally made his Major League debut in September of 2017. He only hit .214 in 23 games, but his .365 OBP intrigued the Phillies enough to move on from Galvis. Unfortunately, his lackluster, injury-riddled 2018 season sealed his fate with Philadelphia. The prospect that Phillies fans once checked the nightly minor league box scores for and deemed the next Jimmy Rollins played a total of 72 games in red pinstripes, slashing .214/.333/.358.

There’s still hope for Crawford, he’ll only be 24 on Opening Day in 2019 and he’ll be returning to the West Coast – he’s from California. Although Seattle hasn’t typically been a place where players break out offensively, the Phillies did experiment with getting Crawford to drive the ball more in 2018, with him showing some flashes of what he could be if he unlocks his power. That, among other things, appears to have intrigued the Mariners. Perhaps they’ll get the payoff that Phillies fans once dreamed of.


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