Justin Crawford was the Philadelphia Phillies' first-round draft pick in 2022 and has received some well-deserved attention since then. Earlier this year, Baseball America ranked him as the Phillies No. 2 prospect heading into 2024. He was also ranked No. 77 on MLB Pipeline's Top 100 update for the 2024 season.
Even more recently, however, Crawford was recognized as the fastest prospect in all of baseball in Pipeline's Best Tools Rankings.
The Phillies prospect was given the recognition for good reason. In his first full professional season in 2023, the speedy outfielder swiped 44 bases in 57 attempts. His .332 batting average had his speed to thank as well. In his time at Low-A Clearwater and High-A Jersey Shore, Crawford hit the ball on the ground 193 times. To put that in perspective, he hit a fly ball just 38 times and a line drive 46 times. His speed undoubtedly helped to drive up his batting average as he beat out many throws to reach base safely.
Justin Crawford still has room to grow
The son of former major leaguer Carl Crawford, the 20-year-old's speed is one of his most impressive attributes. However, being so young, the Phillies believe that their young outfield prospect has the potential to become a more complete hitter. His approach at the plate has been good for a player Crawford's age. He struck out under 20 percent of the time in 2023 and walked a little over eight percent of his plate appearances — which is right around the league average.
Overall, the first-round pick put up some solid numbers at two levels of minor league ball in 2023. He slashed .332/.392/.467, able to reach base via the hit and walk. His slugging percentage was also surprising; however, it's likely inflated due to his ability to stretch singles into doubles. He compiled 116 hits in 87 total games and drove in 67 runs in that span.
Crawford is still far from being a big league-ready player. He has a ton of talent that still needs to be tapped into, and he has to develop physically as well. The club's player development department will want to see their highly ranked young prospect develop more as a hitter and learn to drive the ball at a higher rate.
Luckily for the Phillies and Crawford, there's no rush to bring him up. The Phillies have a solidified outfield for another few years with Nick Castellanos, Brandon Marsh, and Johan Rojas. Given his young age, Crawford's speed will still be a great asset when he becomes major league-ready, and by then, he'll hopefully have developed better hitting tools.