Former LSU star Dylan Crews entered the Nationals system last summer with significant hype after being drafted No. 2 overall.
“Dylan met and exceeded all expectations from the second he entered the clubhouse in West Palm Beach, Florida,” Nationals farm director Eddie Longosz said.
“This is a player who won basically every award possible in college, won a national championship and still comes to the ballpark every day to not only make himself better but also his teammates.”
Now in his first spring training, Crews is starting out alongside major leaguers. The 22-year-old outfielder was among a core of Nationals prospects who received non-roster invitations to big league camp.
The righthanded-hitting Crews appeared in 35 games in his pro debut, batting .292/.377/.467 with five home runs and four stolen bases. He reached Double-A Harrisburg on Aug. 22 and finished the season there.
“He makes loud contact and really stays well through the ball to right-center field,” Fredericksburg manager Jake Lowery said. “That allows him to stay with the inside pitch. He already has gap-to-gap power, and I think a lot of those will turn into home runs as he gets stronger.”
Crews hit .426/.567/.713 with 18 home runs as an LSU junior. He mastered Low-A in his pro debut but hit just .208 with no home runs in 20 Double-A games.
Crews and James Wood are the Nationals’ headlining prospects. Both are capable of playing center field. The two were teammates at Harrisburg, where Crews played 14 games in center, four in right and two in left.
Though Crews’ hitting ability and power are his two best tools, he also grades out above-average defensively and on the bases.
“Dylan has a good accurate arm and gets really good reads,” Lowery said. “To me, he’s a center fielder, but obviously he’s capable of playing any of the three with the Nationals.
“He carries himself as one of the guys and is such a high-character kid. Obviously, his talent came through for us, but he’s also a great teammate.”
— The 21-year-old Wood is also a non-roster invitee in major league camp, as are outfielder Robert Hassell III; infielders Darren Baker, Brady House and Trey Lipscomb; and catcher Brady Lindsly.
— Outfielder Travis Blankenhorn, last year’s team MVP at Triple-A Rochester, rejoined the Nationals on a minor league deal with an invitation to major league camp. The 27-year-old was a third-round pick of the Twins in 2015 and has appeared in 36 big league games with the Twins, Mets and Nationals.