The Tigers won’t allow their Class-A pitchers to go more than an inning or two, maybe three, and short-season Connecticut starter Jonathon Crawford is no exception.
Crawford has done well in eight starts (0-2, 1.89), with three of them extended to three innings. He began August with an outing against the Brooklyn Cyclones, going 2.2 innings and didn’t allow a run on three hits. He struck out three and walked two.
The walks allowed have been an issue at times, and in the performance vs. Brooklyn, he struggled to control the ball. The upside was his ability to get himself out of pressure situations. He showed excellent movement on his fastball to get a swinging strike to end the first inning. The sinking action was also impressive.
Crawford started his first pro season with thirteen strikeouts through seven innings, over three starts; the number isn’t surprising in relation to his final college season, in which he struck out a team-best 69 (in 86.2 innings). The Gators produced another top pick the previous year, when Mike Zunino went third overall to the Mariners.
In the recent outing in Brooklyn, after giving up a leadoff walk in the first, Crawford would allow a single, but struck out the next batter, and, as mentioned, ending the inning with another. He struggled to hit the corners for strikes, but he also mixed in breaking stuff down in the zone. When he kept the ball down, he induced groundballs. Those strikeouts are impressive and he’s got the stuff, but when he changed speeds and worked the ball up and down consistently, he kept guys guessing.
That day, Crawford was lifted after two innings, having struck out the leadoff batter, issuing his second walk, and, after a wild pitch, got the final batter to ground out. The pitch sequences in both innings were fairly good, and he was getting the ball over the plate.
With limited outings, Crawford has maximized those opportunities. The power arm and strikeouts have been impressing since his college days. But when he keeps his composure, works in his curveball and slider, and manages to avoid elevating his pitches too much, he becomes more effective, and, more valuable overall.
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