Phillies Send Top Prospect Crawford Home from AFL

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The Philadelphia Phillies announced today that top prospect shortstop J.P. Crawford has been sent home from his assignment with the Glendale Desert Dogs in the Arizona Fall League.

It was later reported that Crawford had been found to have suffered a torn thumb ligament. Per Jim Salisbury, no surgery is required, the thumb has been immobilized, and he is expected to be fully recovered for spring training.

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The 20-year old Crawford, the club’s top pick in the 2013 MLB Amateur Draft at #16 overall, appeared in 107 games at two different levels after his season began about six weeks late due to a spring oblique injury. In 500 plate appearances, Crawford hit for a .288/.380/.414 slash line with 6 homers, 22 doubles, 7 triples, 42 RBI, 68 runs scored, and a dozen stolen bases.

In the AFL, Crawford had 20 at-bats in five games with Glendale. He hit for just a .150 average and had a .227 on-base percentage, with no extra-base hits or stolen bases, and with just three runs scored.

Clearly the player currently ranked as the 5th ranked prospect in baseball by both MLB and Baseball America was not performing up to his normal capabilities. The thumb injury clearly shows why that was happening, and an off-season of rest and recovery will now begin for the player.

Crawford now has more than 1,200 official plate appearances in the minor leagues of the Phillies organization. He has risen steadily through the system, and fans should expect to see him at Citizens Bank Park sometime in the 2016 season.

If all goes according to plan, Crawford will begin next season at AAA Lehigh Valley, though he could open in Reading and move up to the Iron Pigs early in the year. After a finishing period at AAA, the length of which is likely to be determined by a combination of his performance and that of Freddy Galvis in Philadelphia, we should see him make his big league debut.

The Phillies still have six players remaining with Glendale who were originally sent to the league with Crawford, including the organization’s positional Paul Owens Award winner, catcher Andrew Knapp. The club has also now sent infielder Drew Stankiewicz to Glendale to take Crawford’s spot on the AFL roster.

The Arizona Fall League is run by Major League Baseball as an opportunity for some of the game’s top prospects to get extra work in against high-level competition. Each MLB club sends approximately seven players to populate the rosters on six AFL teams. Two of the last four AFL Most Valuable Players were Nolan Arenado and Kris Bryant, among the best young players in MLB today. 

Next: Phillies 2016 Draft Possibilities: A.J. Puk

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