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Phillies select Justin Crawford, son of Carl, in 1st round of MLB draft

Picking 17th overall Sunday night in the first round of the MLB draft, the Phillies came away with 18-year-old center fielder Justin Crawford from Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas.

The left-handed-hitting Crawford is the son of former four-time All-Star outfielder Carl Crawford, who hit .290 with 480 stolen bases over 15 big-league seasons.

The younger Crawford has also turned heads with his speed and athleticism, though Phillies scouting director Brian Barber described the two as not all that comparable beyond their baserunning ability.

“There are a lot of differences in their game,” Barber said, referring to Justin Crawford as “more advanced defensively” at this stage than his father was.

“No doubt center fielder in the future and I think he’s going to be an elite defensive center fielder in the future.”

An LSU commit, Crawford (6-3/175) is the third straight high school player the Phillies have selected in the middle of the first round. They drafted pitcher Andrew Painter 13th overall in 2021 and pitcher Mick Abel 15th in 2020. He’s also the second Crawford the Phils have taken in the first round over the last 10 drafts, along with cousin J.P. in 2013.

The Phils used first-round picks on outfielders three years in a row from 2015 to 2017 — Cornelius Randolph, Mickey Moniak and Adam Haseley — with little to show for it. Those misses have factored into their major-league performance the last few seasons and have affected how they’ve spent free-agent dollars, highlighting the importance of such a pick.

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“He’s one of the best runners in the draft class and regularly turns in 70-grade run times,” part of Baseball America’s scouting report of Crawford read. “Power should be the last part of his game to develop, and how much he has in the future will depend on how much strength he can add to his frame. Even if he’s never a big power hitter, he should be able to find plenty of extra-base hits by driving balls into the gaps and using his speed on the bases.”

 

Toolsy, athletic prep players are often described as projects, but Barber thinks Crawford is farther along in his development.

“I wouldn’t describe him as raw in any way,” he said. “I think the bat is advanced and he’s hit against high-level competition during the summer. The power is developing, would probably be the last thing for him to come and will require him to put in work as far as getting stronger. I’ve been able to speak to Justin personally and he knows that it’s one of his priorities when he gets to pro baseball.”

The first two rounds of the 2022 MLB draft take place Sunday night. Rounds 3-10 are Monday and Rounds 11-20 come Tuesday, beginning at 2 p.m. both days.

The Phillies do not draft again until 93rd overall on Monday afternoon. They forfeited their second-round pick by signing Nick Castellanos, who rejected a qualifying offer from his former club, the Reds. 

It’s the fourth time in five years the Phillies have been without a second-round pick, forfeiting theirs to sign Castellanos, Zack Wheeler, Bryce Harper and Carlos Santana.

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Sunday’s first round began with the Orioles selecting prep shortstop Jackson Holliday, the son of former seven-time All-Star outfielder Matt Holliday. The Diamondbacks selected outfielder Druw Jones, the son of Andruw Jones, second. 

The third pick was a major surprise with pitcher Kumar Rocker going to the Rangers. Rocker was in play for the top pick last summer and was selected 10th overall by the Mets but went unsigned because of concerns over his physical. Many mock drafts had him going in the back half of the first round. The former Vanderbilt standout has spent this season with the Tri-City ValleyCats of the independent Frontier League, showing upper-90s velocity with tremendous results.



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