Phillies

J.P. Crawford 'not an impact player anymore,' says Baseball America editor

J.P. Crawford 'not an impact player anymore,' says Baseball America editor

If J.P. Crawford's modest numbers at Triple A have caused you to sour on his prospect status, you're not alone. 

Baseball America editor John Manuel joined Jim Salisbury's "At the Yard" podcast this week and admitted that the outlet considered omitting Crawford altogether in its Midseason Top 100 prospects list.

Instead, he was ranked 92nd, a drop of nearly 80 spots.

"We don't see him as an impact player anymore," Manuel said. "Just more of a high-floor, solid regular than a guy who could be a building block. I think that's fair.

"Preseason, I talked to one scout who had pro coverage of him last year in the International League and he said, 'You know, the guy just doesn't impact the baseball in any way.' And this guy had seen him when I first saw him in the Florida State League, when he did hit for power.

"The year at Triple A has been a lost year, he just doesn't drive the baseball. And you look around the big leagues, who has below-average power who's an everyday regular anymore? Very few guys, guys like (Tigers shortstop) Jose Iglesias, (Reds centerfielder) Billy Hamilton, who have grade 70-speed or defense. Or catchers. Even shortstops, at the big leagues they have some pop these days. And he doesn't."

Crawford has hit .211 with a .658 OPS this season, and in 163 games at Triple A the last two years has hit .229/.328/.324. He still works his walks, but for the most part, the offense just hasn't been there. With the IronPigs, he has one extra-base hit every 21 plate appearances.

Manuel said that some in the Baseball America office wanted Crawford off the Midseason Top 100, but Manuel thought that would be too exaggerated a drop. Just a few short years ago, Manuel was one of Crawford's bigger fans.

"Theo Epstein told me 10 years ago, 'The higher in the minor leagues you go, the more performance matters.' And the higher he's gone, the worse his performance has gotten," Manuel said. 

"I still think he can be a big-league regular, but I do have my doubts about him being an impact player. And a couple years ago, I thought this was a guy who could have solid, average power, a 15-home run guy and a slick shortstop who would get on base a lot. ... He still gets on base some, but I don't think you get respected in the big leagues if you don't drive the baseball. 

"He's lost control of the strike zone so the walk-strikeout ratio has gone a little bit sideways. I don't think he knows how to get out of this rut he's in. Hitting is hard. We definitely had several people in our office who wanted him off the 100 because they don't think he's a prospect anymore."

This is a podcast well worth listening to for anyone who follows the Phillies' farm system closely as Manuel offers some of Baseball America's opinions on numerous Phillies prospects. He's high on Rhys Hoskins, Scott Kingery, Adam Haseley and Sixto Sanchez, higher on Mickey Moniak than most, and not as confident in Dylan Cozens, Jorge Alfaro and Nick Williams.

Meanwhile, it appears Crawford is aware of the comments.

Why it was Nick Williams packing his bags to make room for Scott Kingery

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Why it was Nick Williams packing his bags to make room for Scott Kingery

It was expected that when Scott Kingery returned from a month-long stint on the injured list with a hamstring injury, one of the Phillies’ veteran utilitymen would be the roster casualty. 

But it was Nick Williams packing his bags Sunday morning to make room on the active roster for Kingery, not Phil Gosselin or Sean Rodriguez. 

Williams was optioned to Triple A Lehigh Valley, where he will get regular at-bats. He has not played much for the Phillies, starting just eight of their 45 games. As a pinch-hitter, he is 6 for 33 (.182) with one extra-base hit and 10 strikeouts. 

Williams knew when the Phillies signed Andrew McCutchen and Bryce Harper that playing time in the outfield would be hard to come by. The Phillies do not consider Williams an option in center field, so when Odubel Herrera was shelved by a hamstring strain, McCutchen shifted to center and Williams played left field. 

Kingery, in his first game back from the IL, made his first career start Sunday in center field against Rockies left-hander Kyle Freeland. 

Aside from getting Williams more reps at Triple A, optioning him also prevents another team from claiming Rodriguez or Gosselin on waivers. Both are out of options and would have had to be designated for assignment before being sent to the minors. 

Gosselin is 9 for 37 (.243) on the season but has had good swings lately. Of his last 10 plate appearances, one was a rocket line drive snagged by the opposing pitcher and two were deep flyballs he just missed.

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The thoughts and sounds behind Bryce Harper's jaw-dropping home run

The thoughts and sounds behind Bryce Harper's jaw-dropping home run

Aaron Nola had no chance at seeing where the ball landed.

Not many did, unless you were a fan leisurely strolling through the center-field concourse and enjoying the amenities of Ashburn Alley at Citizens Bank Park.

"I think it went over the stadium, from where I was sitting," Nola said. "It was a long one."

That's how powerfully Bryce Harper struck his first-inning home run in the Phillies' 2-1 win over the Rockies (see observations). The ball left his bat at 114.1 miles per hour, traveled 466 feet and cleared the brick walls in center field.

It was loud and it made the sellout crowd of 42,354 fans louder.

"I think just as a fan, you just stop and watch the distance of the ball," manager Gabe Kapler said. "I don't think we saw a ball go that far to center field all year last year and certainly not this year. That's rare territory. Pretty impressive."

Harper pounced on a first-pitch fastball from Rockies right-hander Antonio Senzatela. The swing consisted of everything you want to see from Harper, who is 5 for 15 (.333) over his last four games with the homer and three doubles.

He's staying back and driving the ball.

"I think he's beginning to feel it," Kapler said. "I think part of that comes from the work he's been doing with [hitting coach] John Mallee, specifically being a little bit taller on his backside and his hands being a little bit closer to his body."

Harper didn't want to make too much about the distance of his home run. He remembered some advice from a former manager and five-time All-Star.

"Matt Williams always used to tell me, 'It's not how far, it's how many you hit,'" Harper said. "I'm just trying to go about it the right way every single day, doing things out there that help this team win. Just putting the bat to the ball and trying to win games.

Harper has eight home runs and 28 RBIs in 45 games. He has a .371 on-base percentage and is second in baseball to only Mike Trout with 34 walks.

However, he's hitting .230 and was 10 for his last 70 (.143) prior to this 5-for-15 stretch. The Phillies are seeing positive signs, though, from Harper's swing.

"We all believed he was going to break out of what he was in," Nola said. "Guy works hard, works hard at what he does. We've all seen what he's done in his career. Nobody is pressing over him, we know he's the gamer that he is and he does a lot to help the team.

On Saturday, it was a walk, a double and vicious contact on the first pitch he saw.

"I think Harp is best when he's gap to gap," Kapler said. "Every once in a while, he's out in front and pulls the ball down the line. He's at his best when he's hitting high line drives into the gaps, and the ones that he gets just underneath go into the seats or in this case, over everything in center field."

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