NEW YORK -- The future arrived at Citi Field on Tuesday to find his last name on the back of a No. 2 Phillies jersey.J.P. Crawford made his big league debut a few hours later."It was a dream come true," he said following a 9-1 victory over the Mets, which
NEW YORK -- The future arrived at Citi Field on Tuesday to find his last name on the back of a No. 2 Phillies jersey.
J.P. Crawford made his big league debut a few hours later.
"It was a dream come true," he said following a 9-1 victory over the Mets, which included his first hit, a bloop single to center field in the fifth inning. "Stepping onto the field, looking around, I thought to myself, 'Man, I'm really here.' I've been working on it for so long. Just to finally live the dream. I can't wait to get started."
Fourteen players have made their debut with the Phillies this season, but Crawford's arguably was the most highly anticipated. He has been a symbol of the Phillies' future since they selected him with the 16th overall pick in the 2013 Draft. He is the club's No. 4 prospect and could be their Opening Day shortstop next season.
"It has been my dream since I was a little kid to play in the big leagues and I am just happy to be here," Crawford said.
Crawford, 22, homered Monday in Triple-A Lehigh Valley's postseason-clinching victory over Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He learned afterward that he had been promoted, beginning his audition to be the Phillies' 2018 shortstop. He called his family and friends, who took the redeye from California to New York. He drove from Lehigh Valley to Philly that night and then to New York in the morning.
Crawford got to the clubhouse Tuesday afternoon and got a congratulatory hug from Freddy Galvis, who he could be replacing. He saw his name in the lineup. He hit seventh and played third base, and turned a nice double play in the eighth.
"These guys, great teammates, made me feel welcome from the get-go," Crawford said. "I can't thank them enough to kind of settle down the nerves before the game."
Crawford, a graduate of Compton's Urban Youth Academy along with Mets prospect Dominic Smith, entered the season as the No. 7 prospect in baseball. He slipped to 60th after hitting just .194 with four doubles, one triple, two home runs, 21 RBIs and a .565 OPS in 244 plate appearances through June 10.
He rebounded. He hit .280 with 16 doubles, five triples, 13 home runs, 42 RBIs and a .904 OPS in 312 plate appearances since June 20. He walked 43 times and struck out 55 times in that span.
His motivation? A snub from a national publication, which thought he no longer projected as an impact player.
"It kind of sparked a fire right there," Crawford said. "It was the first time I needed something like that. I never struggled like that before. Just to know that I could get out of it, that was a huge step for me, too, seeing what I had to do to get out of it. It helps."
Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said he expects Crawford to play five to six games at shortstop this month. He will spend the rest of his time at third and second to get him on the field as often as possible.
"I won't say every day, but as much as I can," said Mackanin, when asked how much Crawford will play. "It's important to get a look at him."
Mackanin spoke to Galvis last week about Crawford's arrival. He spoke to third baseman Maikel Franco before Tuesday's game.
"He's still our third baseman," Mackanin said.
And Galvis is still the shortstop. Galvis had hoped to start 162 games, even if a few came out of position. But Mackanin hinted that might not happen anymore because Galvis could use a break.
Crawford had waited a little more than four years for this moment, although he is just the eighth high school position player selected in the 2013 Draft to reach the big leagues. He reached on a fielder's choice and error in his first plate appearance in the second inning, which scored the Phillies' first run. He got the ball from his single in the fifth.
"It's everything I thought it would be," Crawford said of his debut. "It's the only time you get to play your first game in the MLB and I soaked it all in."
And Phillies fans got a glimpse into the future.
"We can do some damage later on," Crawford said.
Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and listen to his podcast.