J.P. Crawford moves up in Phillies organization

J.P. Crawford, who hit .345 with a home run, 19 RBIs, and a .908 OPS in the Gulf Coast League, was promoted to Lakewood. STEVEN M. FALK /Staff
J.P. Crawford, who hit .345 with a home run, 19 RBIs, and a .908 OPS in the Gulf Coast League, was promoted to Lakewood. STEVEN M. FALK /Staff
Posted: August 26, 2013

LAKEWOOD, N.J. - Two different people who have observed Phillies first-round pick J.P. Crawford have used the same adjective to describe the 18-year-old shortstop from Lakewood High in Southern California.

"He is a polished player, and part of that is that kids from California get to play so much ball year-round," said Joe Jordan, the Phillies director of player development.

Crawford, who began this summer at the Phillies Gulf Coast League team, has been recently moved to low-single-A Lakewood.

Pitcher Mark Leiter Jr., a college senior from the New Jersey Institute of Technology, also began the summer in the Gulf Coast League and is now at Lakewood.

"For a high school guy, he is pretty polished," Leiter said. "He knows the game, plays the game hard, and has all the tools and is an excellent player."

Some first-round draft picks take time to develop, especially trying to live up to the hype associated with their bonus. Crawford was the 16th overall player drafted and he signed for a $2.3 million bonus. So far, Crawford has been able to block out the hype.

"I have just gone out there and played the game and have had fun," he said. "That is the big key."

At 6-foot-2 and 180 pounds, Crawford moves smoothly at shortstop. He bats lefthanded and is hitting second for Lakewood. Crawford has good speed, and as he fills out he should display more power.

At the GCL he hit .345 in 142 at-bats with one home run, 19 RBIs, and a .908 on-base-plus-slugging percentage. Crawford also stole 12 bases and was caught five times.

The Phillies not only moved him up in his first professional season, but he skipped a level, going to Lakewood instead of short-season Williamsport.

"We have a young shortstop at Williamsport we like, and he is a good little defensive player and will be better offensively as he gets older," Jordan said, referring to 18-year-old Malquin Canelo. "Honestly we felt like J.P. could handle this because he is a calm, confident player, and we wanted to see how he would do at Lakewood."

In his first five games, Crawford was 5 for 18 (.278) for Lakewood with two stolen bases and four runs scored.

Crawford, who turns 19 in January, is the first high school draftee ever to play for the BlueClaws in the year he was drafted.

"He doesn't get overwhelmed," Jordan said. "He just plays the game."

And plays it at a different level.

"Getting the chance to play with him in Florida, every day you would see something that pops out at you and reminds you why this guy was a first-round pick," Leiter said.

Lakewood manager Mickey Morandini is impressed with the poise Crawford has shown.

"He came here and acted like he has been here all year," Morandini said. "He is an athletic kid who really seems like he knows how to play the game."

Jordan says that the Phillies aren't going to get carried away with Crawford's early success, but he can see why the team's scouts were so high on him.

"He has a lot to learn and figure out, but he has a good feel for the game and a great attitude," Jordan said.

Crawford says he will report to the Instructional League in mid-September. He refuses to gloat, with his mind squarely on continuing the production that he has enjoyed during his first year in professional baseball.

Contact Marc Narducci at mnarducci@phillynews.com. Follow @sjnard on Twitter.

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