It’s not a stretch to say that 2022 first-rounder Justin Crawford exceeded expectations in 2023.
The 20-year-old outfielder hit .332/.392/.467 in 87 games for Low-A Clearwater and High-A Jersey Shore. He was named Florida State League MVP after leading the league with a .344 batting average and 40 stolen bases.
“When you get a kid in high school, you never know how they’re going to perform,” Phillies assistant GM of player development Preston Mattingly said. “And he made a ton of contact for his first year out.”
Crawford is a product of Las Vegas’ Bishop Gorman High and is the son of four-time all-star Carl Crawford.
Justin Crawford’s calling cards are his speed and his defense, but the Phillies are optimistic that some power will come soon. Mattingly said that the exit velocities Crawford showed in 2023 were promising that the center fielder has been working to add weight.
When the Phillies drafted him, Crawford stood 6-foot-4 and weighed 172 pounds. He now weighs 190.
“He needs to add some weight, but the right way, because obviously a big part of his game is the speed and the defense component,” Mattingly said.
“We don’t want him to get bulky and big. We want it to be good weight, natural weight, that is added over time versus in one offseason.”
Crawford has been working with Phillies hitting development coach Luke Murton to uncap some of that power potential. He hit three home runs in 2023 with a groundball rate pushing 70% that was the highest in the minor leagues among batters with 300 plate appearances.
The Phillies are well aware that number needs to be trimmed. But given Crawford’s age and the fact that he is still in the process of adding muscle, Mattingly isn’t concerned.
“He’ll continue to focus on his approach, which I think he can take big strides forward in,” Mattingly said. “I think with the quality of contact, there are avenues for him to improve that and I think we’re improving that as well.”