PHILADELPHIA -- It did not take Bryce Harper long to post an Instagram story late Sunday, when the Phillies selected Justin Crawford with the 17th overall pick in the 2022 Draft.
“Vegas boys! Let’s work,” he said.
Crawford, 18, is an outfielder from Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas, which is the same hometown as Harper and Phillies rookie Bryson Stott. Getting the opportunity to possibly spend time with Harper in the offseason is never a bad thing. But Crawford shares more than hometown connections with Harper and Stott, who the Phillies selected in the first round in 2019. Crawford is the son of former All-Star outfielder Carl Crawford, who played 15 seasons in the big leagues, and the cousin of former Phillies first-round pick J.P. Crawford, whose career has blossomed with the Mariners.
Crawford grew up in clubhouses in Tampa Bay, Boston and Los Angeles.
Maybe he will be as good as his dad one day.
Maybe he will be better. Crawford batted .503 (77-for-153) with 17 doubles, eight triples, five home runs, 52 RBIs, 20 stolen bases, 60 runs scored, 19 walks, seven strikeouts and a 1.379 OPS in 42 games during his senior season at Bishop Gorman.
“I think when I was two years old, my dad put a bat in my hands,” Crawford said on Zoom on Sunday night.
Carl already has told his son that he is more polished than he was when Tampa Bay selected him out of high school in the second round in 1999.
“That’s been one of our biggest goals,” Crawford said. “It’s to be as polished as I can be. Not have to rely on just my raw athleticism. It’s something that can take me a long way.”
It is natural to compare father and son in a situation like this. Both hit left-handed. Both are outfielders. Both run well.
Of course, Crawford’s baseball DNA was not why the Phillies selected him.
“There have been plenty of people that have played in the big leagues and their sons aren’t very good or successful baseball players,” Phillies amateur scouting director Brian Barber said. “So there’s only so much it adds. But I think one of the biggest things when you find a person who’s as talented as Justin is and was able to grow up around the game of baseball and learn it so early, and learn what a Major League clubhouse is, learn how a Major League game is run, what it really takes to be able to play the game at that high of a level, when you bring in someone that's an athlete and talented and tools and that knows how to play the game, I think it's a pretty special combination.”
Barber typically avoids comparisons to big leaguers at all costs, but in this case he said the best comparison between father and son is speed. Both are fast.
But the Phillies think son is more advanced defensively than dad, which is saying something. Carl won a Gold Glove as a Rays left fielder in 2010. The Phillies think Justin can be an elite center fielder.
Barber could not speak to dad’s hit tool as a teenager, but the Phillies believe Justin is advanced for his age.
“He’s hit against high-level competition throughout the summer,” Barber said. “The power is developing. It would probably be the last thing for him to come. And it’s going to require him to put in work as far as getting stronger, which I’ve been able to speak to Justin personally. He knows that's one of his priorities, when he gets into pro baseball right away.”
Crawford is listed at 6-foot-3, 175 pounds, so he will need to get bigger and stronger. The Phillies are confident he will. He said he is eager to begin a strength program as soon as he gets to Clearwater, Fla.
He could get there soon. While Crawford is committed to LSU, he is expected to sign with the Phillies.
The 17th pick is slotted for $3,792,800.
“I want to be down there soon,” Crawford said. “I’m ready to go and it’s going to be a lot of fun.”
The Phillies are scheduled to make their next two selections Monday in the third round (No. 93 overall) and fourth round (No. 122 overall).