Phillies Notebook: Phillies got their guy

Crawford
Crawford
Posted: June 21, 2013

SIX DAYS before the major league draft, Marti Wolever, the Phillies assistant general manager and scouting director, was asked about what he was looking to get out of the 16th selection in the first round.

It was the Phillies' highest draft position since 2001. Although it could have been viewed as deception at the time, the answer Wolever provided turned out to be brutally honest.

"We're going to get a very good player," Wolever said. "We've got a couple of kids, I think - and, of course, I'm not going to pass their names around - but we've got a couple of kids that we have a lot of interest in, that I think can certainly make their major league careers long and successful here.

"One guy in particular I saw last year and I thought he was one of the best position players I saw. I think maybe there is a chance we can snag him this year. I hope so. I have my fingers crossed."

Less than 3 weeks later, Wolever was seated in the same room at Citizens Bank Park addressing the media. Except this time he had that very player he spoke about sitting to his left.

Wolever and Southern California scout Demerius Pittman introduced J.P. Crawford as a member of the organization for the first time yesterday afternoon, a day after the team and the 18-year-old shortstop agreed to a deal that includes a $2.299 million signing bonus.

"He was the guy coming into the year," Wolever said. "He was the guy we hoped we could pick at 16. There were some surprises in the draft. I was just in Minneapolis at a showcase event and talked to a couple of the clubs that were in front of us. Had those surprises not happened, he probably wouldn't be here today. It would have been someone else."

Instead, the Phillies have a kid out of Lakewood (Calif.) High School who they hope develops into the next Jimmy Rollins. Even Rollins hopes Crawford follows in his footsteps.

The former MVP and four-time Gold Glove Award winner said so in a text message to Crawford recently.

"He texted me the other day, actually, I was playing PS3," Crawford said. "I was thinking, 'Is this really happening right now?' "

Rollins relayed the message that he hoped Crawford would replace him one day. The new kid had a Rollins-like response for the longest-tenured athlete in Philadelphia.

"I want to take your spot right now - I don't know what you're talking about," Crawford, said, relaying his own message with a laugh.

The Phils had been watching Crawford for a while. Crawford, the cousin of Dodgers outfielder Carl Crawford, was on the same high school team as the team's top pick from 2012, pitcher Shane Watson.

Pittman told Wolever that Crawford, then a junior, was their guy for 2013. After watching a game for a bit, Wolever was sold on the shortstop's talent.

"He made every play possible in front, in the hole, moved runners - he just had great instincts and a feel for the game," Wolever said. "It's hard enough to see that in college players or a high school senior, but as a junior, he did all that. That's the real kid that you see out there. He's real humble, but yet very confident. He's got a pretty good makeup, and obviously the physical skills are there to be a frontline guy."

Wolever said Crawford would begin his Phillies career today, when he is scheduled to report to Clearwater. He'll start playing in the Gulf Coast League with the possibility of reaching short-season Class A Williamsport before the end of the summer.

With Crawford in the fold, the Phillies have signed eight of their top 10 picks. Sixth-rounder Jason Monda, an outfielder from Washington State, told the team he will not sign and instead go back to school for his senior year.

"He agreed during the draft," Wolever said, "and then he's just changed his mind."

Franco promoted

Chase Utley began his minor league rehab assignment with Double A Reading last night. He'll likely rejoin the Phillies this weekend.

Utley wasn't the only big bat that arrived in Reading. The Phillies promoted third baseman Maikel Franco to Double A after he finished a torrid 65-game stretch at Class A Clearwater.

The 20-year-old Franco, a righthanded hitter, is perhaps the best hitting prospect in the Phillies' farm system. He hit .299 with a .925 OPS and 16 home runs this season at Clearwater.

Franco's home run on Tuesday night was his fifth in his last nine games. Franco, who also wields a plus glove at third, was leading the Florida State League in doubles (23) and was tied for the league lead in home runs at the time of his promotion.

The Dominican-born Franco, who turns 21 in August, was signed as an undrafted free agent in 2010. He is scheduled to make his debut for the Reading Fightin' Phils tonight at FirstEnergy Stadium.

Phillers

Ben Revere upped his season-high hit streak to 10 games with a single in the first inning. Revere, who hit .200 in April, entered play last night hitting .321 with a .358 OBP since May 1 . . . Michael Young's two-run home run in the first inning gave him 1,001 career RBI. Young is the 19th active major leaguer to reach 1,000. The next player in line is also a Phillie: Ryan Howard had 957 RBI entering last night's game . . . The Phillies "Pig Pen" has impressed thus far. Relievers Justin De Fratus, Mike Stutes, Jake Diekman and Joe Savery, who all began the season with the Triple A Lehigh Valley IronPigs, are a combined 4-0 with a 1.93 ERA with the Phillies.

DN Members Only : David Murphy writes about the entirely predictable, not surprising, mediocre Phillies.


On Twitter: @ryanlawrence21

Blog: ph.ly/HighCheese

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