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Phillies reunite Crawford with former teammate

First-round Draft pick excited to join Watson on road to big leagues

Shortly after the Phillies made J.P. Crawford their first-round pick, 16th overall, in the First-Year Player Draft on Thursday night, the high school shortstop from Lakewood, Calif. talked to Phillies Minor League right-hander Shane Watson.

They've known each other since they were kids. They were high school teammates. And now they're back together again. Watson was the Phillies first pick last year.

"I talked to him last night right after I got drafted. He was kind of tearing up because he couldn't believe it. And I couldn't believe it, either," Crawford said in a conference call with reporters Friday night. "We actually grew up playing baseball since we were like six. So he's really more like a brother to me."

The 18-year-old left-handed hitter would have been thrilled no matter which team ended up taking him. But coming to the Phillies means a little more because of Watson and former Phillies prospect Travis d'Arnaud, also a Lakewood High alum, a top Phillies pick in 2007.

"It's an honor to be drafted by the Phillies because they drafted d'Arnaud and Shane," he said. "It's just a long line of Lakewood guys. When they called my name it was unbelievable. I just can't wait to put on a Phillies jersey and start playing ball again."

That strong baseball legacy makes it all the more impressive that Crawford is the school's all-time leader in hits (179), runs (162), stolen bases (73) and walks (72). As a senior he batted .432 in 25 games.

Crawford has an offer to play baseball at USC, but made it plain that he's eager to get his professional career started. "I want to sign and get down there as soon as possible," he said.

One of the people who reached out to him Thursday was his cousin, Dodgers outfielder Carl Crawford. "He tweeted me and texted me," he said, adding that he also got a text from d'Arnaud.

The Phillies usually bring their top pick to Citizens Bank Park after the draft, show him around, introduce him to people, even let him take some batting practice. And he already knows which Phillies player he wants to meet -- current star shortstop Jimmy Rollins, the guy he hopes to replace some day.

"I look up to him. I like the way he plays the game and respects it, so I hope to learn a lot from him," Crawford said.

Paul Hagen is a reporter for
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