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Pipeline preview: Ervin, Crawford set to clash

Reds' No. 2 prospect, Tigers' No. 4 meet when Class A Dayton visits West Michigan

A year ago, outfielder Phil Ervin and right-hander Jonathon Crawford were finishing their junior seasons in college, Ervin at Samford and Crawford at Florida. They would soon both become first-round picks, Ervin going No. 27 overall to the Reds and Crawford No. 20 to the Tigers.

Thursday, Ervin and Crawford will face off in the Midwest League as Class A Dayton visits West Michigan. The game, which can be seen on MiLB.TV, begins at 6:35 p.m. ET.

Crawford, the Tigers' No. 4 prospect, is scheduled to start for the Whitecaps and is coming off the best start of his career, also against the Dragons. He threw seven scoreless innings last Friday in Dayton, setting career highs for innings and strikeouts (nine).

Crawford is just shy of qualifying for the ERA title in the Midwest League, but his mark of 2.16 would rank fourth if had thrown enough innings to be eligible. He has struck out 41 batters and walked 12 in 41 2/3 innings.

While Crawford has excelled in his first full professional season, Ervin has struggled. The Reds' No. 2 prospect is hitting .211/.275/.302 with 17 stolen bases and one home run in 50 games this season.

Ervin, ranked No. 91 on's Top 100 Prospects list, went hitless Wednesday, but is seemingly turning it around. In the last two weeks, he hit his first homer of the season and is hitting .267/.308/.400 in 14 games.

Dayton will turn to right-hander Ismael Guillon, the Reds' No. 9 prospect, to face Crawford. He enters the game 3-0 with a 2.91 ERA this season. He has struck out 51 batters and walked 21 in 46 1/3 innings.

Thursday's Minor League schedule also includes a few pitchers ranked in the Top 100 who are slated to start, including Jon Gray (No. 13), Henry Owens (No. 26), Zach Lee (No. 54) and Trey Ball (No. 83). Fans can watch all four on MiLB.TV, beginning with Owens and Double-A Portland hosting New Britain at 11:00 a.m. ET.

Top prospect probables
Alfonso Alcantara (Angels' No. 18), Burlington at Peoria
Cody Anderson (Indians' No. 4), Akron at Bowie
Trey Ball (Red Sox's No. 7), Greenville vs. Hickory
Manny Banuelos (Yankees' No. 12), Trenton at Reading
Ty Blach (Giants' No. 6), Richmond vs. Altoona
Aaron Blair (D-backs' No. 3), Visalia vs. Bakersfield
Tim Cooney (Cardinals' No. 9), Memphis vs. Iowa
Jonathan Crawford (Tigers' No. 4), West Michigan vs. Dayton
Tyler Danish (White Sox No. 4), Winston-Salem vs. Potomac
Ryan Eades (Twins' No. 20), Cedar Rapids vs. Wisconsin
Michael Feliz (Astros' No. 9), Quad Cities vs. Beloit
Kendry Flores (Giants' No. 20), San Jose at Stockton
Ismael Guillon (Reds' No. 9), Dayton at West Michigan
Jesse Hahn (Padres' No. 13), San Antonio vs. Northwest Arkansas
Jason Hursh (Braves' No. 3), Mississippi vs. Pensacola
Luke Jackson (Rangers' No. 7), Frisco at Tulsa
Jake Johansen (Nationals' No. 12), Hagerstown at Kannapolis
Nate Karns (Rays' No. 7), Durham at Toledo
Zach Lee (Dodgers' No. 4), Albuquerque at Sacramento
Henry Owens (Red Sox's No. 1), Portland vs. New Britain
Joely Rodriguez (Pirates' No. 20), Altoona at Richmond
Victor Sanchez (Mariners' No. 6), Jackson at Mobile
Tyler Skulina (Cubs' No. 18), Kane County at Clinton
Scott Snodgrass (White Sox No. 19), Birmingham vs. Chattanooga

Teddy Cahill is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter at @tedcahill.
Read More: Ismael Guillon, Phil Ervin, Jonathon Crawford