How a Phillies top prospect is improving his stock even more this season

Already known for his blazing speed, No. 4 prospect Justin Crawford is upgrading his skillset this year.
Philadelphia Phillies No. 4 prospect Justin Crawford
Philadelphia Phillies No. 4 prospect Justin Crawford / Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

If you ask the average Philadelphia Phillies fan what they know about top prospect Justin Crawford, they’d likely say that he’s fast. You might also hear something about his bat-to-ball skills from those fans who are a little more tuned into the team’s prospect pool.

The Phillies No. 4 prospect is blazing fast, and it’s well-known, both in the Phillies' orbit and around the league. While he was drafted by the Phillies with the 17th overall pick in 2022 for his MLB Pipeline-scored 75-grade speed tool and his contact ability, Crawford is learning to unlock a skill that has started to raise his stock this season.

How a Phillies top prospect is improving his stock even more this season’s Ben Weinrib notes that the 20-year-old has started elevating the ball this season with the High-A Jersey Shore BlueClaws. Previously, his unreal speed had compensated for an extreme ground ball rate. He hit the ball on the ground at close to a 70 percent clip in 2023 (the MLB average this season is 42.6 percent) but still managed a .332 batting average and .392 on-base percentage.

Now, Crawford is working to get the ball up, hitting more line drives and fly balls. His ground ball rate now sits at 60.6 percent. His line drive rate has jumped from 10.9 to 18.8 percent, while his fly ball rate is up from 14.5 to 20.6 percent.

Crawford already has four home runs, eclipsing last year’s total of three. He's running a .304/.353/.424 slash line through 52 games and has 10 doubles a pair of triples, 28 RBI and 24 stolen bases in 31 attempts.

BlueClaws manager Greg Brodzinski told Weinrib what he has been seeing from Crawford this year, noting that he thinks the young outfielder could wind up hitting 15 to 20 home runs in the majors.

"When you watch him in batting practice, you see the power that he has when he's able to unlock it,” Brodzinski said, per Weinrib. “That's something for a lot of guys that comes with age and experience and getting at-bats. … So we push him in the right direction, and with a slight adjustment, the ball is going to start being elevated a little bit more, especially to the pull side. ... But he'll always have that speed in his bag when he does hit a ground ball."

Yes, the speed will always be there, but for Crawford to be an impact player in the majors, he'll need to continue improving his ability to drive the ball in the air and make himself a more complete player.