Thu. Jan 23rd, 2020

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J.P. Crawford Named Baseball Prospectus’ Top Player

4 min read
J.P. Crawford

Cliff Welch/MiLB.com

The Phillies own J.P. Crawford has been named the best prospect in all of baseball according to Baseball Prospectus’ annual BP Top 50.

J.P. Crawford, the 21-year-old shortstop who is currently plying his trade for AAA Lehigh Valley, is the best player in baseball. Well, minor league baseball that is, as according to Baseball Prospectus’ annual BP Top 50, in which the best prospects at the midway point are named, Crawford tops the list at #1.

Entering the season, the Phillies 13th overall draft pick from 2013, J.P. Crawford was ranked as the 5th best prospect in all of baseball, as well as the top prospect in the Phillies organization and the top shortstop prospect across the minors as well. Following a promotion to the Iron Pigs after playing the first month of the season with AA Reading, Crawford ascended in MLB’s rankings to his current spot at #3 among all MILB players.

According to BP’ in their reasoning for giving Crawford their top spot:

“Crawford has the broadest base of skills in the minors, and one of those skills is plus-defense at shortstop.  Couple that with a strong hit tool and approach, note the double-digit home run potential, and you may be looking at a perennial all-star at shortstop.”

MLB’s ranking echoes this, noting:

“Crawford has the chance to be an impact all-around player. He’s one of the best defensive shortstop prospects, with outstanding range despite having just average speed. Crawford combines that with terrific hands and a very strong arm, allowing him to stay at the premium position for the long term. At the plate, he has a very advanced approach that belies his age, with plate discipline that allowed him to walk more than he struck out in 2015. Crawford has more gap power right now, but he should grow into a little more over-the-fence pop from the left side of the plate.”

Grading out with just below average power (45 on a scale of 80) and average running speed (50), Crawford is not quite what you’d call a five-tool player. But these days, it seems prospects like that are so rare and Crawford gets by and has had success as a result of what he can do, which much like his cousin Carl Crawford, who made his MLB career as a .290 doubles hitter, that’s with his defense (65), arm strength (60) and ability to consistently hit for average (60) all at an above-average rate. Drafted as the fifth high schooler in the 2013 draft, the current expectation is that JP Crawford is leading the way among prep players and should be the first to reach the majors, MLB placing his ETA sometime this season.

Upon reaching AAA, Crawford, like most players, fell victim to the adjustment period, hitting just .153 in his first 19 games. But proving why he was chosen as the best prospect in baseball at this point, Crawford has more than settled in, hitting .312 and with a .369 OBP over his last 105 plate appearances. This hot streak has raised his batting average nearly .100 points. And that’s not to mention his fielding, which saw him go the first 29 games of his AAA career without committing a single error. In 374 innings, he has just four of them, putting his fielding percentage at .979, .25 points higher than it was last season.

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His glove absolutely rivals that of Freddy Galvis, who really is only the team’s starting shortstop because of his defensive prowess. So an argument could be made that Crawford’s time is now or at least sometime before or during September call-ups. That middle infield has always been his to have and Galvis is just a seat-warmer. When J.P. Crawford is ready, and that seems to be getting closer every day for the two-time MILB All-Star, Futures Game representative and most recently one of the Phillies players who received team honors in June, that spot will be his for the taking.

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