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.

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13 comments

  1. Ryan

    September 24, 2013 11:53 AM

    Thanks, Eric. I always enjoy reading these, but even more so at the end of a wasted and boring season. How would you compare Crawford to Rollins in his prime? Does he have a chance to get there/surpass Rollins?

    Any thoughts on who the Phillies might target in this year’s draft? Who would you target if you were running the team?

  2. Mark66

    September 24, 2013 12:45 PM

    The front office needs to make some important decisions for next year. With the resources the Phils have those decisions will decide how good the Phillies are for 2014. Everyone sees how well Oakland is every year with limited means. I hope that they are not that much smarter than the Phils.

  3. Eric Longenhagen

    September 24, 2013 01:42 PM

    Ryan,

    The bodies are so completely different. Rollins in his prime was more explosive than I can every envision Crawford being. More power for sure and a better hitter as well.

    As far as next year’s draft class, we’re too far away to being to speculate about who’s going where and what players will be around when. I put together my amateur scedule in January and I focus on local kids in PA/NJ/DE/and a little NY. I guess a name you should watch is Derek Fisher who went to High School in PA at Cedar Crest and is now draft eligible at Virgina. He’s toolsier than most college bats and, for now, is projected to be around when the Phils pick in the 9-13 range.

  4. nik

    September 24, 2013 02:00 PM

    Mark: Prior to 2012 the A’s hadn’t had a winning season in 5 years.

  5. Josh G

    September 24, 2013 05:33 PM

    I feel so greedy. You write about a great athlete with good defense and an average bat. I’m thinking “I saw Rollins, I’m seeing Galvis, so why should I be so impressed?” I’m just being spoiled, right?

  6. Eric Longenhagen

    September 24, 2013 06:59 PM

    Crawford has a way better chance to hit than Freddy ever did. Phillies fans have certainly been spoiled by Jimmy for the past decade, though.

  7. RAH

    September 24, 2013 09:30 PM

    True about jimmy. We won’t truly appreciate him till he’s gone.
    He’s had a great career. Not good. Great. T

  8. Matt

    September 25, 2013 12:33 AM

    I can’t believe how much people complain about Rollins. By far the best shortstop the Phils have ever had, he’s pretty much consistently been about a top 5 shortstop in the league throughout his career, not to mention being remarkably durable. It drives me crazy how some of the fan base can’t stand Rollins then falls in love with a guy like Wilson Valdez.

  9. JM

    September 25, 2013 10:11 AM

    Wilson Valdez pitches too….

  10. prs130

    September 25, 2013 04:10 PM

    Rollins drives people crazy because of his approach. Approach is a choice, and Rollins insists on approaching ABs like he’s a power hitter. It’ll always be love/hate with him, because he could have been better if he’d have simply accepted that he’s 5’8″, 180lb.

  11. MattWinks

    September 25, 2013 05:07 PM

    The thing is, for a SS Rollins is a power hitter. From 2005-2013 he was 4th in HRs behind Hanley, Tulo, and Hardy. He was 7th in ISO behind those other 3, Carlos Guillen, Khalil Greene, and Stephen Drew. He did this while maintaining a walk rate that was near average and a extremely low 10.8% K rate. The infield fly rate contributed to a low BABIP for him which is a negative, but he was far and a way the best baserunner, and is second only to Hanley and Reyes in WAR.

    I won’t go into why Rollins drives people crazy, but for the large part it is because of things that don’t have to do with baseball and unreasonable expectations for a SS in their 13th full year (without any real major injuries except for 2010)

  12. Pencilfish

    September 26, 2013 10:35 AM

    Eric,

    It has been said Crawford can probably stick as a SS as he moves up the minor league ladder. Do you agree? Or do you see Crawford’s arm as a better fit for CF?

  13. Eric Longenhagen

    September 26, 2013 02:31 PM

    I think he’s going to be a very good defensive SS. Sorry that wasn’t made clear above.

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