Two-way prospect Crawford nets first Fall League homer the hard way

October 14th, 2023

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- ’s talent captivated evaluators ahead of the 2022 Draft due to his two-way nature and ability to impact the game as both a hitter and pitcher at the University of Connecticut. But as he showed Friday afternoon at Scottsdale Stadium during an eventual 8-7 Scorpions win, his wheels are nothing to sleep on either.

His apparent secret? Crush a leg workout before first pitch.

The center-field fence of the Giants’ Spring Training park sits 430 feet from home plate, meaning it would take a considerable wallop to get four bases out of a shot to straightaway center. But when Crawford’s first-inning drive caromed off the wall and away from the outfielders, he turned on the afterburners and recorded his first-ever inside-the-park home run at any level.

“I mean, rounding second, I thought we were shutting it down at third, but then [third-base coach Drew Martinez] kept going and I was like, ’Alright,’” a laughing Crawford said. “So I had to turn the wheels -- whatever wheels I had left -- had to turn those on. I just knew that it was a big ballpark and if I'm going dead center, you gotta bust it out of the box.

“Definitely was feeling it around third base though.”

On the same field where the Giants prep for their season ahead during the spring, Crawford, their first-round selection in 2022, is garnering vital in-game reps during the fall. The club’s No. 8 prospect per MLB Pipeline is taking on some of the best that the prospect landscape has to offer as a hit-only option, with his time expected to be split between first base and serving as the designated hitter.

Unlike his counterparts on the circuit, Crawford isn’t even playing the position where his future likely lies. While he – and the Giants – maintain that the 6-foot-4, 235-pounder can continue to work both as a hitter and pitcher for the time being, his potentially overwhelming arsenal on the mound may force everyone’s hand. Capable of hitting triple digits on a radar gun (while consistently sitting in the upper-90s), Crawford also boasts a mid-80s mph slider, with both offerings grading out as plus or better.

Still on the comeback trail from Tommy John surgery in October 2021, Crawford worked 19 innings this season between Single-A San Jose and High-A Eugene and struck out 32 batters while posting a 2.84 ERA.

Traditionally, catchers have the advantage of seeing pitchers from a unique angle. When they step in the box, they can game plan offensively based on how they’d work with a given arm. But in Crawford’s case, he can work through the mental rolodex of how he’d attack himself at the dish.

“I do have the pitcher's perspective,” Crawford said. “Yeah, you do see the holes in the swing. So I mean, it is beneficial to have that. But I mean, for me, it's just trying to see what is exposing me and fine tune those things.”

What better way to record your first extra-base hit since June – and technically, second pro home run – than with a lifetime first? He wouldn’t have to wait nearly as long for his next extra-base knock, as he split the left-center-field gap in the eighth for what was then a go-ahead two-RBI double. 

Despite an overall bumpy start with the Scorpions, Crawford is embracing the challenge of being a full-time hitter for the next four weeks.

“It's kind of just trusting the process and having a vision for what we want to do in the future,” Crawford said at Fall League media day earlier this month. “I won't let the fear of something being difficult be the reason for me not to attempt it.”

And facing advanced, full-time pitchers during the premier fall circuit has proven difficult. In addition to seeing a wide variety of arms from all levels, the consistent velocity can be a considerable obstacle for any batter to climb, particularly one who has just 36 Minor League at-bats over the past two years under his belt.

“For me, the biggest thing is just not to get too hard on myself,” Crawford said. “I'm gonna need to make adjustments. I'm gonna need to get at-bats, see different pitches and a lot of it just comes down to patience, and that's what I've been trying to remind myself of.

“Just keep grinding it out. We're trying to make adjustments, trying to figure out different things with the swing and just trying to get better every single day.”