Phantasy Relevance: J.P. Crawford

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Shortstop J.P. Crawford is the Phillies top minor league prospect, and now generally considered one of the dozen or so top prospects in the entire game. But not every minor leaguer will become an impactful fantasy league producer. 

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Depending on where you look and whose opinion you value more, you can find the top 10+ prospects for each and every MLB team if you look hard enough.  Each year the staff over at Baseball America comes out with their annual rankings of the top 100 prospects as well as the top 10 prospects for each MLB organization.  They do an excellent job and most fantasy league players consider them as the most authoritative resource for prospect research.

Prospects are rarely relevant in the fantasy game, with the exception of playing in “keeper” or “dynasty”-type leagues.  If you’ve never played in a keeper league and are considering it, or you’re new to the format, you will absolutely need to know or learn about these young players. This kind of information will be of vital interest to you.

When we talk about the top prospects in the Philadelphia Phillies farm system, the name that frequently has come up first in recent years is promising 3rd base prospect Maikel Franco.

A 3rd baseman for the majority of his five seasons in the minors, Franco has also taken fly balls in left field, and has been discussed as a potential future 1st baseman.  This news has Phils’ fans excited to see if he will leave Spring Training with a starting job on opening day.

After Franco, who in the Phillies farm system is destined to become relevant in the fantasy game and when might we see them?  Over the next week or so, I will go through Baseball America’s top 10 for the Phillies to give you an idea of what to expect.  Let’s start at the very top of the list.

Up First: Shortstop – J.P. Crawford

1.  SS – J.P. Crawford – Currently ranked as the #15 prospect in all of baseball by Baseball America, and the future shortstop for the Fightin’ Phils.  Crawford started in Low-A and ended in High-A in 2014, producing a combined slash line of .285/.375/.406 to go along with 11 home runs and 24 stolen bases in 123 games.

Crawford has a very high ceiling, but developmentally he is still most likely another year or two away.  I could see him receiving a cup of coffee call-up this coming September, depending on how soon upper management wants him getting an introduction to life in the big leagues.  I’d be hesitant to say that you’ll see him in Philly any time before the 2016 season.

At 6-2 and 180 pounds with plus speed and a growing frame, Crawford is extremely athletic.  He has a good eye, evidenced by his ability to make consistently solid contact at the plate.  He is also now developing power as a result of that growing frame.

In the fantasy game, there is every chance that he is a double-digit homerun and stolen base player right from the start. If he reaches his ceiling, by the time he hits his prime another 5-6 years from now, we should be talking about a 20-20 player or more, while hitting for a .280 batting average.

Defensively, he is an outstanding defender, showcasing soft hands and a strong arm. Crawford is not only one of the top 5 shortstop prospects today, but also one of the top prospects in the entire minors.

J.P. Crawford’s future in Philly should be a bright one.  I have seen him compared to the Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro, as well as long-time Philly icon Jimmy Rollins.  Whether he lives up to that remains to be seen, but by all reports, he seems well on his way.

On the heels of trading away “J-Roll”, the imminent arrival of another shortstop with that kind of talent should be music to Phils’ fans ears.

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