2013 Phillies Draft Preview - J.P. Crawford, SS

A highly athletic Shortstop, who may have 20-20 potential.

The Basics on Crawford: He's a 6'2" 175 lb Shortstop from California with a College commitment to USC. He's a solid fielder with an above average arm (he also pitches for his High School team), above average speed and plenty of projectability. Hard to know whether he can stick at Short, he's long and has a lot of filling out to come. It's possible he could, maybe, grow out of the position, but he should have enough speed for Center.

Honestly, there may be no more risky position to draft high than High School Shortstop. You're invariably getting the most athletic kid on his High School team, and if you're getting him in the First Round, probably one of the most athletic kids in the country. Baseball history is littered with First Round Shortstops who didn't pan out, or only became replacement players. It's a very tough position to field, and few of the SS that are drafted are polished hitters. All this is true of Crawford (Nephew of Carl).

How 'bout some video? First up a video from Baseball Factory for last Summer's Under Armour All America game in Wrigley. This is nicely half fielding and half BP. He has a nice pick in here around 40 seconds in. Everything else looks fairly clean as far as fielding goes. For the hitting, his swing looks, smooth, easy and repeatable. He isn't overswinging to try to put on a laser show: just nice, easy strokes.

Next up is a really long video courtesy of Bullpen Banter. This one is from last year's Perfect Game All American Classic. This one also includes fielding drills, but wonderfully it also includes a few flubs. The first at about 48 seconds in, is hard to get a handle on, as we seem to be missing part of the play, but he appears to be in the act of fielding a ball to his glove hand side and doesn't secure it before transferring it to his throwing hand. The second one at 52 seconds appears to be somewhat similar, but instead of dropping the ball, he seems to get hung up grasping the ball to throw. Even Ozzie Smith had errors, so nothing to get hung up on, just that these videos are often wall to wall highlights. BP and HR Derby are more nice swings, but what about game film? How many guys look bad in Batting Practice? Keep watching and you'll get to see JP Steal Second and some game at bats. It's not a lot of game film, but he doesn't look like a free swinger there.

I can't find any good game tape of Crawford's Defense, but the first clip above includes an awful lot of shuffling around before throws (hard to say if that carries through to games, without seeing any).Scouting reports seem to suggest he has the tools to stick at Short. Want the full list of Shortstops currently starting in the Majors who were drafted in Round 1 out of High School? Here it is:... Okay, there aren't any (Technically Manny Machado could count, as, even though he's at Third, no one argues whether he could play Short). If I switch that to Opening Day Starters, we would have Jeter. I have seen one comp for Crawford to Jeter. Not crazy as they're similar in build at that age, though Crawford's a little more athletic with much better range. Also, Crawford is going to be 18 and a half years old on Draft day. That's old for a High Schooler, and there are a few small studies that suggest older prospects don't pan out as often (the theory being similar to the age relative to league argument -- their results are conceivably skewed having spent their time dominating kids a year younger than them).

As you may have gathered, I'm less than enthusiastic about Crawford. Partially because I can't see enough video of him fielding to tell whether he can stick at Short. Partially because of his age relative to class. Partially because of all the risks in drafting High School Shortstops. Partially because scouting reports range everywhere from him going First overall to somewhere in the supplemental round. So, you might ask, why am I bothering to review him? He's uber toolsy. He's from California, where the Phillies farm frequently for top talent and he goes to the same high school as former top picks Shane Watson and Travis d'Arnaud. Basically, this kid ticks a lot of boxes in the Phillies typical Draft profile.

Here's his Perfect Game Profile, if you just can't get enough video.

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