|JP Crawford, image- Jay Floyd|
It's probably no surprise that the player widely regarded as the Phillies' top young talent sits atop this year's prospect countdown. Shortstop J.P. Crawford is likely be making his way to the major leagues soon enough.
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 games.
Crawford, a lefty batter, would open his 2014 campaign back with Lakewood and showed a great deal of progress. In 60 games for the BlueClaws, he tallied a .295 average with three homers, 19 RBI along with 14 stolen bases. After he was honored as a Sally League All-Star, a promotion to Class A Advanced Clearwater was in order.
In 63 games for the Threshers, Crawford would post a .275 batting average along with eight home runs, 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.
In 2015, Crawford missed the opening few weeks of the season 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 Fightin Phils. He earned a spot as an Eastern League All-Star, but skipped the event to, again, head to the Futures Game.
During the following 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 was fully healthy to open the 2016 campaign with Reading.
In 35 games with the Fightins, Crawford sported a .265 average with three home runs, 13 RBI and five steals. He would move up to Triple-A Lehigh Valley in May.
As a member of the IronPigs, Crawford batted .244 with four home runs, 30 RBI and seven stolen bases in 87 games.
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 career .372 on-base percentage, Crawford draws plenty of walks, which is a great aspect for a player that the team will count on to be an offensive catalyst for years to come.
With a very athletic frame, the six-foot-two 180-pounder could still add muscle and increase his power even more.
Defensively, Crawford features outstanding 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 solid speed. His 67% 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 is expected to be a future mainstay for the Phillies and could very well become a perennial All-Star.
Look for the 22-year-old to return to Lehigh Valley to open the 2017 season. Before long though, the long awaited arrival of the organization's top prospect should happen in Philadelphia.
You can follow along with this year’s Phillies prospects countdown by clicking this link.