Jonathan Crawford, RHP
Date Seen: 4/23/14
Where: Fifth Third Ballpark-West Michigan Whitecaps
Body: Listed 6’2”, 205. Looks about right. Good, strong build. Strong lower half. More physical than projectable, but looks like he could add maybe 10 more pounds. Not maxed out, but it’s close.
Mechanics: ¾ slot, short stride, good hip rotation, athletic delivery, can get a little stiff/rigid at times, arm action isn’t 100% smooth, but I don’t see any massive red flags. Can see how scouts would prefer him in the bullpen from mechanical standpoint, but I believe he can start, at least right now. Pretty athletic guy, and the athleticism shows in the delivery despite some flaws. Repeated delivery relatively well, but he did struggle with his landing point a couple times. Overall I expected a bit more mechanical polish from a college guy, but I wasn’t discouraged from a mechanical perspective.
Fastball: Threw 2 different fastballs, a 2 seam and a 4 seam. Threw the 2 seam almost exclusively from the windup with no one on base, so as to elicit weak contact. 2 seam sat 89-91, bumped 92. Good life down in zone. Runs down and in on right handers, away from lefties. Solid command of the pitch. Was able to command it really well to arm side, struggled to command it to glove side. 4 seam fastball sat 92-93, ramped it up to 94-95 a few times when he needed it. He didn’t seem to be “airing it out”, looked to be more working on sequencing and command. 4 Seam has solid movement, not as much as the 2 seam. Has life at the plate. Got swings and misses on it both up in the zone and down in the zone. Probably average life on 4 seam, but it definitely helps the utility of the pitch. Think he could realistically sit 90-92 with the 2 seam, 93-94 with the 4 seam, and touch higher. Saw reports of him touching 99 both in college and in short stints with Connecticut, but I don’t think you’ll see that velocity as a starter. He’s a guy whose fastball could play up a full grade from the pen, but it still has plus potential as a starter
Grade (Present/Future): 50/60
Slider: Fucking nasty. Sat 84-87 for the entire start, touched 88 with a few of them. Really hard, insane spin, tight, 2 plane break. A bat-misser in every sense of the phrase. Able to command the slider pretty well. His favorite pitch, it seems, is starting the slider at the front hip of a right handed batter and breaking it down and away, to where it ends up in the catchers glove over the inside corner at knee height. Froze some guys with it, got several whiffs with it. He can throw it to both sides of the plate, and even shows the ability to throw it to the back foot of a left handed hitter. Trusts the pitch implicitly, and it’s a motherfucker of a pitch. True plus pitch right now, could get to plus-plus if he commands it a little better and can manipulate the movement a little differently. Nasty now, but imagine if he can manipulate the vertical break? I’m just dreaming here, but you get the idea.
Grade (Present/Future): 60/70
Changeup: I only saw about 5 changeups total, but it was better than I expected. Throws it from the same arm slot and with the same arm speed, which tells me that he at least has some feel for the pitch. Came in at 83-85, with a little bit of fade, not really much sink. Think it could be a usable pitch for him, but I don’t think it becomes a huge part of his repertoire. Presently well below-average, but with increased usage and reps, could see it become fringy.
Grade (Present/Future): 30/40
Command: Solid athlete, and he repeats his delivery relatively well, but the mechanical flaws are there. Short strider, which works for him, but in my view it limits the extension he gets upon release and therefore can inhibit his command. Arm action isn’t what I would term “violent” or “troublesome”, but it’s a little stiff and can also inhibit command. He showed the ability to elevate the fastball, and commanded both fastballs and his slider well to the arm side, but struggled to the glove side. Was able to keep 2 seamer down in zone, but 4 seamer was left up around the thighs too often. Think he could end up with average command, but overall mechanical flaws make that his ceiling, in my view.
Grade (Present/Future): 30/50
Overall Future Potential: I think Crawford’s ultimate ceiling is that of a #3 starter, but I wouldn’t call him an innings-eater. Think he’s a guy who misses more bats than a prototypical “workhorse”, but I don’t see a guy who consistently goes a ton of innings. If you’d like to look at other Tigers prospects for a compare/contrast, I think he’ll ultimately miss more bats than Jake Thompson, but will throw fewer innings and has less of a chance to end up as an MLB starting pitcher. The slider is a motherfucker and the fastball is plus, perhaps plus-plus. You could squint and see a guy with 2 plus or better pitches and a 3rd average pitch, and see a #3 starter here. You could also see a legitimate closer with 2 70 pitches.
OFP: 55 (#3 starter or back end bullpen)