CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Shortstop J.P. Crawford, the Phillies first round draft choice last year, has come to camp looking much stronger.
That was the initial impression after seeing the 19-year-old Crawford on Tuesday morning before the minor leaguers got ready for a workout.
With the Phillies off for the day, it was a good time to catch up on some minor leaguers and Crawford is one who many in the organization feel will live up to that first round status and the 16th overall player selected
As for the added strength?
“I went with a couple of friends to the gym every morning (in the offseason),” Crawford said.
Crawford is listed as 6-foot-2 and 180 pounds. He says he is now 6-2 and 185. It could be that listing of his weight was a little inflated last year.
“He has added some strength this winter and will continue to get stronger,” said Joe Jordan, the Phillies Director of Player Development.
After being signed, Crawford tore it up in the Gulf Coast League, hitting .345 with a .908 OPS in 168 plate appearances.
Crawford then skipped going to short-season Williamsport and was promoted to low Single-A Lakewood, where he hit .203 in 53 plate appearances, covering 14 games.
The Phillies don’t want to rush him too much and it’s likely that he will start the year at Lakewood in the South Atlantic League.
“If he plays in the Sally League, even all season, that is a good challenge for him at 19-years-old and that is kind of where we see him,” Jordan said.
Crawford doesn’t act like a hot-shot first rounder and he is very respectful of the older players and grateful for their guidance. He said he’s enjoying his first spring training at the minor league camp.
“It’s been a great experience,” Crawford said. “All the older people around me are teaching me the game and it’s been a great honor having these supportive people.”
Crawford says he’s looking forward to the challenge of playing a long season.
“I think I am prepared,” he said. “I have been playing year-round (in California) for a while.”
Most of all, he has a hungry attitude and feels he’s owed nothing due to his high draft position.
“I got drafted high but that doesn’t mean anything, we are all the sane here,” he said. “I still have to prove myself.”
He is certainly on his way.