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Phillies' top pick Crawford signed, ready to go

PHILADELPHIA -- J.P. Crawford had just died in a game of Call of Duty on his PlayStation 3 recently when he received an unexpected text.

"Hey, this is Jimmy Rollins. Got a moment to talk?" it read.

"All right, hold on," Crawford told his friend in the room. "You will never believe this. Jimmy Rollins just texted me."

Rollins, the greatest shortstop in Phillies history, and Crawford, the talented high school shortstop and organization's first-round pick (16th overall) in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft, began to text back and forth. Rollins offered his congratulations and said maybe Crawford can take his job one day.

Crawford texted back, "I want to take your spot right now. I don't know what you're talking about."

Of course, it will be a few years before that possibility even exists. Crawford just signed for a $2.299 million signing bonus with the Phillies. He heads to Clearwater, Fla., on Thursday to begin his professional career with the Rookie level Gulf Coast League Phillies. There are no guarantees from here, other than he will get an opportunity to prove himself.

Crawford got on the Phillies' radar last year when they scouted right-hander Shane Watson, who was their first pick in last year's Draft. Area scout Demerius Pittman and the club's assistant general manager, amateur scouting Marti Wolever both noticed Crawford.

"I think this is a guy for next year," Pittman said.

It turned out he was.

"Last year, when I went to watch Watson, [Crawford] made every play possible in front, in the hole, moved runners, he just had great instincts and a feel for the game," Wolever said. "It's hard enough to see that in college players or a high school senior, but as a junior, he did all that. That's the real kid that you see out there. He's real humble, but yet very confident. He's got a pretty good makeup, and obviously the physical skills are there to be a front-line guy."

Wolever said eight of the team's 10 picks have signed. Sixth-round pick Jason Monda, an outfielder from Washington State, is not expected to sign. He agreed to sign with the Phillies on Draft day, but changed his mind and will return to school for his senior season. Fifth-round pick Ben Wetzler, a left-hander from Oregon State, is expected to sign after his team is finished playing in the College World Series.

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for
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