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Phillies take high schooler Crawford with 16th pick

Club sees shortstop advanced defensively, excited to work with Rollins

MILWAUKEE -- J.P. Crawford said on MLB Network he hopes to learn as much as he possibly can from Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins, then one day take his job.

That's kind of the point, isn't it?

The Phillies selected Crawford on Thursday with the 16th overall pick in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft. Crawford is a 6-foot-2, 175-pound shortstop from Lakewood High School in California, the same school of former Phillies top picks Shane Watson (40th overall selection in 2012) and Travis d'Arnaud (37th overall selection in '07). He also is the cousin of Dodgers outfielder Carl Crawford.

"It means a lot especially coming from Jimmy Rollins down to me," Crawford said on MLB Network, asked about the Phillies drafting him. "Hopefully I can learn something from him and take his place."

With it's second-round selection, Philadelphia selected catcher Andrew Knapp, who attends the University of California, Berkeley.

Knapp hit .350 with 16 doubles, eight home runs, 41 RBIs, a .544 slugging percentage and a .434 on-base percentage in 54 games this season.

Crawford has talent, has the pedigree, but it will be a while until he is in the Phillies' lineup, if he successfully climbs the ladder to get there.

"He's a little bit of an advanced defensive player at shortstop," Phillies assistant general manager Marti Wolever said. "Offensively, he's a little bit ahead of the game, too. We're probably looking at three to four years before he's knocking at the door here in Philadelphia."

Of course, there is risk taking a high school position player. Since the Phillies selected Rollins in the second round in 1996, the most accomplished high school position players drafted by the organization are Nick Punto (21st round in 1998), Lou Marson (fourth round in 2004), Domonic Brown (20th round in '06) and Anthony Gose (second round in '08).

That is not a very long list.

"He's certainly ahead of the curve compared to some of the other kids we've taken, but once again, you have to remember where some of the kids were taken," Wolever said. "It's contingent upon so many things, but he is further along than most high school players we've taken. I think he's much more accomplished, being from Southern California and the competition level where he has played throughout his high school career and certainly some of the showcase events he's participated in over the years."

Crawford, 18, caught the Phillies' attention last year when they scouted Watson. Crawford and Watson have been teammates since tee ball.

"I'm crying," Watson tweeted.

Lakewood High School has developed more than its share of talent over the years. Lakewood coach Spud O'Neil told recently that Crawford is the best all-around talent he has coached in 30 seasons there.

"You never know for sure," O'Neil said, "but I've had Chris Gomez, Damion Easley, Travis d'Arnaud, who is with the Mets, Mike Carp with the Red Sox -- J.P. fits right in there with all those guys."

The Phillies certainly hope so. Wolever praised Crawford's defensively abilities, and said he also can be a solid hitter.

"Physically, I think he's just got to fill out a little bit and growing into his body a little bit more," Wolever said. "We think down the road he's a .280, .290 hitter in the middle of the infield with a chance to steal some bases. He's got tremendous instincts for the game, which for a young guy is going to allow him to do some things others couldn't do at this point in time. Maybe 10-15 possible more home runs, contingent on how strong he gets."

Crawford has a college commitment to USC, but that should not be an issue. Crawford seems to want to get started on his professional career.

"Philly better be ready for it!!" he tweeted.

Crawford, who hits left-handed, hit .432 with eight doubles, two triples, two home runs, 10 RBIs and 13 stolen bases in 25 games this season with Lakewood. He also is the school's all-time leader in hits (179), runs scored (162), stolen bases (73) and walks (72).

Day 2 of the Draft continues with Rounds 3-10, streamed live on on Friday, beginning with a preview show at 12:30 p.m. And Rounds 11-40 will be streamed live on on Saturday, starting at 1 p.m.'s coverage includes Draft Central, the Top 100 Draft Prospects list and Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of Draft-eligible players. You can also keep up to date by following @MLBDraft on Twitter. And get into the Draft conversation by tagging your tweets with #mlbdraft.

In the Pipeline: Crawford is three to four years away before potentially competing for a spot on the Phillies' 25-man roster, so it is virtually impossible to predict what will happen to him along the way or what path he will take to the big leagues, if he makes it at all.

One of the Phillies' top prospects is shortstop Roman Quinn, who is playing with Class A Lakewood. Wolever said "it's always great to have competition" and theoretically Quinn and Crawford could compete for a big league roster spot down the road. However, these things have a way of working themselves out. Somebody might develop faster than the other. Somebody might not develop at all. Somebody might get traded.

Only time will tell.

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for
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