Phillies: J.P. Crawford is the Best Chance for the Next Jimmy Rollins

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Mar 5, 2016; Dunedin, FL, USA; Philadelphia Phillies shortstop J.P. Crawford (77) bats against the Toronto Blue Jays during the eighth inning at Florida Auto Exchange Park. Mandatory Credit: Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 5, 2016; Dunedin, FL, USA; Philadelphia Phillies shortstop J.P. Crawford (77) bats against the Toronto Blue Jays during the eighth inning at Florida Auto Exchange Park. Mandatory Credit: Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports /
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J.P. Crawford is the best Phillies shortstop prospect by far, and he has the task of being the next Jimmy Rollins. No one else could tackle that task.

When the Phillies drafted J.P. Crawford in 2013, he instantly became one of the team’s best prospects. A year later after they traded Jimmy Rollins, Crawford became the heir apparent to Rollins’s throne in Philadelphia. Three years later as 2017 draws near, Crawford remains the best hope to fill Rollins’s shoes.

It’s truly hard to follow up a MVP-caliber player, and expecting that out of any prospect is a tall order. However, it’s hard to deny Crawford has that potential. Prior to the 2016 season, Dan Farnsworth of Fangraphs gave Crawford a likely future value of 65 and a ceiling of 75 on the 20-80 scouting scale. For those unfamiliar with the scale, a grade of 65 translates to an All-Star. and a 75 is considered one of the top players in all of baseball.

Why does Crawford have such potential? It’s because there aren’t any major holes in his game. Crawford definitely slumped this year upon reaching Triple-A, but his plate discipline wasn’t to blame. His 10.9% walk rate and 15.3% strikeout rate were both above average. Success at the plate starts with strong discipline, and if Crawford continues to show that next season, he should rebound.

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In addition, Crawford is also a sound all-around defender. Like most young players, he can have mental lapses, but that is to be expected for someone who has yet to turn 22. Crawford should work out those kinks with major-league coaching. Combined with his strong arm, he should make plenty of stunning plays at shortstop – like this one – just as Rollins did. It’s not crazy to think that Crawford could bring home a Gold Glove or two before his playing days are over.

If Crawford does bottom out – which can happen to even the best prospects – the Phillies would lose their best chance at internally replacing Rollins.

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Freddy Galvis has been serviceable as Philadelphia’s starting shortstop since Rollins was traded, but he by no means compares to Rollins. He definitely stacks up with Rollins as a defender as Galvis was nominated for a Gold Glove this season and was worth 1.3 wins above replacement on defense alone. However, Galvis pales in comparison on offense. His best season in terms of oWAR was in 2015 with 1.2. Rollins had more in all but three seasons, two of which were in his last two professional seasons and the other coming in 2000 in which he played 14 games during a September call-up.

Turning towards the minor-leagues, the only other high-ranking shortstop in the system is Malquin Canelo. While Canelo is also a strong defender, his offense is paltry. At High-A Clearwater this season, Canelo hit for a .246/.294/.330 line in 124 games. He struck out in nearly one out of every five at-bats with the Threshers. Matt Winkelman of Phillies Minor Thoughts said during this season “Canelo still has the projection to be a good defender at shortstop, but it looks like he might not have the bat to be regular there.” There’s simply no way that Canelo could ever hope to be the next Rollins barring some major developments at the plate.

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Does this mean Phillies fans have to feel doom and gloom if Crawford isn’t the All-Star we hope he can be? Not at all. They could pick up a legitimate shortstop prospect in the 2017 draft or scoop one up in a trade. As mentioned before, Galvis has been an elite defender while serving as the bridge from Rollins to Crawford, and he could keep on playing there need be. Either way, we can rest easy knowing shortstop isn’t a position of concern for the Phillies.

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