What To Expect: J.P. Crawford
SEE ALSO: What To Expect Archive
J.P. Crawford has had one of the better second halves in the minor leagues. Now the Phillies will give him a chance to see if he can extend his hot streak in the major leagues.
Crawford, the Phillies’ top prospect in the last three Prospect Handbooks, got his major league call this weekend and will join the Phillies with the expanded 40-man roster. The 2013 first-round pick out of Lakewood (Calif.) High needed to be protected on the 40-man anyway this November, so the Phillies were able to get him started a little early and reward his second-half push.
Since signing for just under $2.3 million, Crawford has impressed scouts with his smooth athleticism and sound offensive approach. He entered 2017 with nearly as many walks (232) as strikeouts (243) as a pro, and at times, that patient offensive approach veered into passivity.
That especially seemed the case once he reached Triple-A in 2016, carrying over into the first half of this season. Through his first 279 at-bats at the Triple-A all-star break, Crawford batted just .211/.328/.330, with his 49 walks and four homers the first week of July being salves to a poor first half. However, Crawford admitted that dropping from 19th on BA’s preseason Top 100 Prospects list to 92 at midseason "lit a fire under me.”
A more aggressive approach resulted in more strikeouts but also more impact at the plate, with Crawford fashioning a .287/.385/.513 line with nine homers in his final 195 at-bats. Crawford finished with a .243/.351/.405 line, evidence of his combination of sound plate discipline and solid-average power, as he finished with 15 home runs.
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WHAT TO EXPECT
Crawford also played second and third base down the stretch of the year with Lehigh Valley, while big league shortstop Freddy Galvis has seen time in center field. Galvis has stated his desire to play 162 games, so he and Crawford will likely both play multiple positions down the stretch as the Phillies try to avoid having baseball’s worst record.
A lefthanded hitter, Crawford’s value stems from having a chance to be an offensive shortstop with patience and power, but he must continue to show the balanced approach and not fall back into his passive pattern. He’s a sure handed, sound defender at short who lacks Galvis’ excellent range and arm strength. With Maikel Franco’s continued struggles at third, Crawford could wind up at third base in the short-term.
In the long-term, he still looks like an infield fixture for Philadelphia, though he may no longer be seen as the linchpin of the franchise’s rebuilding efforts.