Apr 21, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr talks with media prior to playing the St. Louis Cardinals at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Phillies Draft J.P. Crawford Who You've Never Heard Of But Is Hopefully Good

Last night at the MLB Draft, you hard a lot of words. Some of them were said by smart people who know about baseball and high school kids and college kids.

Others were said by Harold Reynolds.

 

It truly was a night when the stars came out. Some of the top draft prospects in the nation came to the MLB Network studios in New York to sit in a fake, made-for-TV dugout to wear their ridiculous suits and entice fans to imagine how good they are all going to be in five years.

It was a celebration in delayed gratification.

Finally, after more than an hour of breathless waiting, it was the Phillies’ turn to pick. After going two years without a pick in the first round, the team did what many expected they would do.

They picked a player 98% of you, and me, had never heard of until two weeks ago.

On Thursday night, the Phils selected high school shortstop J.P. Crawford with the 16th overall selection in the MLB Draft.

Because not many of us have sat down and watched a lot of Lakewood, CA High School baseball tape, we’re going to have to go on the scouting reports of people who, you know, actually spend their time watching these guys.

“…Baseball is J.P. Crawford’s game and shortstop is the position Wolever sees the kid playing in the big leagues. At 6-foot-2 and 175 pounds, Crawford has a plus arm and is a slick fielder in the middle of the diamond. His fielding is Crawford’s best attribute, though Wolever projects a lot of potential on the base paths and at the plate as a left-handed hitter.” – CSN Philly’s John Finger

“Crawford was considered by most to be the best shortstop prospect in this class, and a player that most believe will stick at the position despite only average speed. With very little in the system in terms of middle-infield, Crawford has a great chance to be the Jimmy Rollins heir apparent by probably around 2015.” – ESPN’s Christopher Crawford

“Lithe and wiry, Crawford is a splendid athlete who runs well, possesses a strong, accurate arm and exhibits flashy fielding skills. He’ll probably stick at shortstop but also has the ability to play the outfield. Scouts are concerned with Crawford’s bat; he shows quickness and line drive bat speed but his production is hindered by a gimmicky stance and a tendency to over-stride.” – Dave Perkin Baseball America contributor and SI.com’s draft expert

“This Southern California product and Oscar Mercado are the top high school middle infielders in the country in this class. Well-known on the showcase circuit, Crawford has a plus arm and easy, flowing motions defensively. While he grades out as an average runner, he is a threat on the bases. Crawford has a loose, wristy stroke and can hit the ball to all fields. He has average raw power and could grow into more as he matures. Crawford’s stock slipped a bit this spring as some scouts questioned his hitting tools. How high he goes in the Draft may depend on how much teams feel his bat will come, though it’s fairly certain someone will take the chance in helping him develop given his outstanding defensive skills up the middle.” – MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo

This isn’t the first time the Phillies have gone to Lakewood High for a top pick, as Crawford follows in the footsteps of Travis d’Arnaud and Shane Watson. There aren’t a lot of shortstops in the draft, so the Phillies are lucky to get one of the few premium options here. Crawford has athletic bloodlines: his father Larry played nine years in the Canadian Football League, and Dodgers outfielder Carl Crawford is a relative. He has become a much more fluid defender over the last two years, making him the rare prep prospect with a real chance to play shortstop in the major leagues. His long arms and game awareness give him good range, especially to his left and on balls in front of him. He needs to improve on balls to his right, but his above-average arm should allow him to make plays from the hole, and he has sure hands and good actions. He projects as a solid-average or slightly better defensive shortstop and an average hitter with fringy power. Crawford has good hand-eye coordination, which allows him to spray line drives to all fields, but he has a high set-up and a bit of a loop in his swing. He can turn on balls on occasion, but he needs to get stronger and smooth out his swing in order to get on top of good fastballs. Crawford is a solid-average runner who takes good turns and has baserunning savvy. He is committed to Southern California. Crawford will enter the Phillies’ system at No. 2—ahead of Roman Quinn because of his better defensive ability and pure hitting ability. He could one day replace Jimmy Rollins. – Baseball America

It’s always fun to hear someone described as “lithe,” isn’t it?

“He’s a little bit of an advanced defensive player at shortstop,” Phillies assistant general manager Marti Wolever said. “Offensively, he’s a little bit ahead of the game, too. We’re probably looking at three to four years before he’s knocking at the door here in Philadelphia. Physically, I think he’s just got to fill out a little bit and growing into his body a little bit more. We think down the road he’s a .280, .290 hitter in the middle of the infield with a chance to steal some bases. He’s got tremendous instincts for the game, which for a young guy is going to allow him to do some things others couldn’t do at this point in time. Maybe 10-15 possible more home runs, contingent on how strong he gets.” – quote per MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki

By all accounts, the Phillies did well with Crawford, who most see as the one prospect who can actually stick at shortstop at the Major League level. Not only that, Crawford’s high school has been a virtual prospect breeding ground for the Phils the last few years, with Crawford joining last year’s top pick Shane Watson (40th overall selection) and Travis d’Arnaud (37th overall selection in ’07) as players taken from Lakewood High School.

Of course, everyone will have to wait a few years before knowing whether or not Crawford will have been a good pick. But as of one day after the draft, the consensus in the baseball community is that the Phillies made a smart selection.

So quick, let’s all grade it right this very minute.

The Phillies also made a second-round pick last night, taking college catcher Andrew Knapp from the University of California, Berkeley. Knapp hit .350 with 16 doubles, eight home runs, 41 RBIs, a .544 slugging percentage and a .434 on-base percentage in 54 games this season.

Knapp will further bolster the Phils’ catching depth in the minors. Already they have Tommy Joseph, Sebstian Valle and Cameron Rupp in their minor league system.

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