J. P. Crawford
|J. P. Crawford|
Crawford with the Philadelphia Phillies in 2017
|Seattle Mariners – No. 3|
|Shortstop / Third baseman|
|Born: January 11, 1995|
Long Beach, California
|September 5, 2017, for the Philadelphia Phillies|
|MLB statistics |
(through June 23, 2019)
|Runs batted in||34|
After growing up in Lakewood, California, Crawford attended Lakewood High School, where he achieved recognition for his athletic performance; Crawford also was considered one of the nation's best teenage baseball players. The 16th pick overall in the 2013 MLB draft, Crawford began his career with the Philadelphia Phillies as an exceptional defensive infielder and was considered the organization's top prospect for much of his rise through their minor league system. He was promoted to the major league ball club, in 2017, playing at his natural position and third base. Prior to the 2019 season, Crawford was traded to the Mariners.
Crawford was born on January 11, 1995 in Long Beach, California to Larry and Beth Crawford; he has two sisters. Larry, a former professional Canadian football defensive back, was a four-time All-Star in the Canadian Football League (CFL) and won the Grey Cup with the BC Lions in the 1980s, while Crawford's mother played collegiate volleyball. Crawford's cousin, Carl Crawford, played in Major League Baseball (MLB). His older sister Eliza, a softball player for California State University, Fullerton, brought the young Crawford with her to batting practices and encouraged him in his pursuits. Thereafter, Crawford was highly involved in baseball programs for urban youth in nearby Compton, including the Urban Youth Academy and Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities. He grew up a Los Angeles Dodgers fan.
In 2009, Crawford began attending Lakewood High School. The school's head baseball coach Spud O'Neil recalled Crawford "was 6–2 and skinny as a rail" but recognized his flair defensively, and immediately accommodated the freshman by opening a spot at shortstop—Crawford's natural position. Crawford posted several team records; by the end of his senior year, he led in career hits (179), runs scored (162), stolen bases (73) and walks (72). His talents drew the attention of the University of Southern California (USC) which offered Crawford an athletic scholarship to attend and play college baseball for the Trojans. As anticipated, however, Crawford declined the offer and elected to partake in the 2013 MLB draft.
In 2011, during Crawford's junior year, he was evaluated by Marti Wolever, the assistant general manager of the Philadelphia Phillies. The circumstances of Crawford's discovery by the Phillies are inadvertent; by Wolever's account, he first watched the shortstop while scouting another Lakewood prospect, pitcher Shane Watson, whom the Phillies selected with their first-round draft pick in 2012. Wolever stated in 2012 "I thought he [Crawford] was one of the best players we saw last year", and anticipated that the prospect would be ready for the major leagues in three or four years. The Phillies selected Crawford in the first round of the 2013 MLB draft, 16th overall, and he signed his first professional baseball contract on June 18, worth $2.30 million.
The Phillies had high expectations for Crawford—expectations significantly profound that the organization envisioned the prospect as the eventual long-term replacement for former MVP shortstop Jimmy Rollins. Crawford made his first appearance as a professional ballplayer with the Gulf Coast Phillies of the Gulf Coast League (GCL) in Clearwater, Florida. Once the regular season began, he adjusted well to professional baseball and behind the plate; in 39 games with the GCL Phillies, Crawford led the league in both batting average (.345) and on-base percentage (.443), earning him a promotion to the Single-A Lakewood BlueClaws. Returning to Lakewood in 2014, attention was focused on Crawford for his improved plate discipline, as he nearly finished the season, shared with a promotion to the Clearwater Threshers, with a 1-to-1 strikeout-walk ratio. Crawford became the fixture of the Phillies' farm system, the team's number one prospect according to Baseball America for the rest of his ascent through the minor leagues.
In 2015, Crawford's season was cut short by his first significant injury—a torn ligament in his left thumb. Playing just 104 games, between Clearwater and the Double-A Reading Phils, he finished his season with a .288 BA, six home runs, 42 RBIs and 12 stolen bases. Crawford kept up his efforts to develop his power numbers in 2016 but by early 2017, with the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, Crawford scrambled to produce hits, batting just .175 with one home run at the end of May. Over his next 60 games Crawford returned to regular form, posting a .272 BA and a career high 12 home runs. With the Phillies' shortstop position firmly entrenched by Freddy Galvis, Crawford began starting at third base on August 20 in preparation of sharing time with Maikel Franco, who struggled throughout his fourth season in the majors.
In the latter half of 2017, the Phillies had re-equipped the team with young players like Rhys Hoskins and Jorge Alfaro. Phillies manager Pete Mackanin expressed interest in Crawford, hoping the prospect could play substantially before the end of the regular season. During a Phillies road trip, Crawford was promoted to the major leagues on September 5, 2017 to join the team in time for the second game in a three-game series against the New York Mets. Playing at third base in his MLB debut Crawford went 1-for-5, hitting into a fielder's choice in his first at-bat, before singling to center field in the fifth inning; the Phillies won the game 9–1. Mackanin rotated Crawford between starts at shortstop, third base, and second base during the final month of the regular season. He ended the year batting .214 with six RBIs in 23 games.
Freddy Galvis was traded to the San Diego Padres early in the 2017 offseason, securing Crawford's position as the Phillies' Opening Day shortstop for 2018. The team, under their new manager Gabe Kapler, focused on branding their roster with players–including Crawford in his larger role–who could "control the strike zone" and post high on-base percentages (OBP). In his first 20 games, Crawford struggled at the plate–batting .190–and defensively, committing five errors in that stretch. He was placed on the 10-day disabled list (DL) on April 29 after suffering a strained right forearm. He returned to the roster on June 6, sharing starts at third base with Franco. In a game with the St. Louis Cardinals on June 19, however, Crawford was hit by a pitch, breaking his left hand and returning him to the DL. After rehabbing, he struggled to find consistent playing time for the remainder of the season, limiting him to just six starts; he finished the season batting .214 with three home runs and 12 RBIs.
On December 3, 2018, the Phillies traded Crawford and Carlos Santana to the Seattle Mariners in exchange for Jean Segura, James Pazos and Juan Nicasio. On March 13, 2019, the Mariners optioned Crawford to AAA Tacoma Rainiers.  On May 10, 2019, the Mariners called up Crawford following an impressive stint in AAA, hitting a .319/.420/.457 slash line with 7 doubles, 3 home runs and 15 RBI and reaching base in all 31 games with the Rainiers. He made his Mariners debut on the same day against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park.  Crawford's first home run as a Mariner came off Michael Pineda against the Minnesota Twins on May 16, 2019. 
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