The Future is Unwritten: JP Crawford (Part Two)
Last we saw JP Crawford on this site was post-draft, where the appetizer was a discussion of his skillset and the main course was a deep dive into how to project young bodies as they grow into men. I hadn’t seen Crawford in person at that point, the only scouting info and opinion we had on him at that time was what I’d gotten from sources. Most thought he’d be a slow comer, at least initially, as his wispy frame would need thickening and his many mechanical issues needed greasing. We were wrong. Crawford’s quick signing (thank you for that, new CBA) and subsequent dominance in GCL ball (this is where most writers would post his triple slash line but I couldn’t care less about a GCL slash line) led to his aggressive promotion to the Sally League where I was able to get several fantastic looks at him.
JP Crawford oozes a special kind of athleticism in everything he does. It’s not an explosive, raw speed and strength athleticism but rather one of coordination and supreme body control. He is ubiquitously smooth. JP Crawford plays baseball, especially defense, like Leon Phelps talks. From Crawford I’ve already seen consistently soft hands, quick twitch reactions, fundamental purity, path efficiency and the capacity to execute the kinds of plays that have scouts making the sorts of noises you make when you’re eating something really delicious or are getting a lap dance. Or both. This isn’t Freddy Galvis, but it’s a very special and when you factor in that JP Crawford was born in 1995, it’s damned exciting. I project the glove to a 65 grade at shortstop with a 6+ arm that has some room to grow if the arm gets stronger as he fills out. Knocks? The transfer is a tad slow but I think that’ll be forcibly improved as the speed of the game mandates it at the upper levels. There might be an adjustment period when that happens, maybe with accuracy, but it’s nothing I don’t foresee him handling.
The bat might take a while. We’ve discussed some mechanical tweaks that we’d expect Crawford to make as he climbs through the system and those are in progress (hand positioning during the load was the main thing). The glaring issue I saw in person is his footwork in the box. His front foot doesn’t even come close to closing as he strides and he’s vulnerable on the outer half as he flails toward first base. It’s important that gets cleaned up as Crawford doesn’t project to have very much power (Present: 25 Future: 35, for me anyway) and it behooves him to spray and slash ball all over the field to get the most out of his wood. The body and the swing are both devoid of raw power right now. Physical development and swing alterations may divert the punchless path Crawford is on, but for now I don’t ever see the power being an asset to his game nor do I see it being so horrendously bad that it’s the death of him. I feel quite good about the hit tool, however. The bat speed will play and his athleticism leads me to believe he’ll make the necessary adjustments as holes are exposed during development. I’ve got a 3 on the stick right now and a future 5 projected. He’s twisty and bendy in the box and there’s some noise that needs quieting but the skills are there to hit one day.
As far as the legs go, Crawford is an average runner, maybe a tick above it for now. I’ve got times on him of 4.12, 4.17, 4.21 and 4.23. As he fills out I think those times will shade more toward the 4.2 end of the spectrum. He already appears to have added mass in his lower half, a great sign, now we wait and see if the upper body gets a dose of bulk. I’m hoping the 6’2”, 180lbs listing we have now is 6’2”, 188lbs by spring.
There’s obviously a ton of risk in projecting teenagers but I’ve pegged Crawford’s ceiling as a role 6 player in his prime when you encompass all of his skills, an above average . The defense will obviously be the carrying tool here and we have to hope the bat develops into something viable. I don’t think I see a top of the order bat here or anything like that (unless the on base skills and approach become dynamite assets, and we won’t learn that for quite a while) but there’s a ton of talent on which to drool and dream and I am rather excited to watch the Phillies cultivate it.