Is it possible that next season we could see J.P. Crawford as the starting third baseman?
Crawford has been widely considered the future at shortstop for the Phillies and one of the top prospects in all of baseball. While we have been waiting for Crawford, Freddy Galvis has taken the stop gap role at short until Crawford shows he is ready for the big show.
Unfortunately it’s taken longer than most of us thought for Crawford to reach the big leagues. He has had a multitude of struggles in his journey through professional baseball so far, both defensively and offensively.
In fact, with his poor start to this season, he dropped significantly in Baseball America’s top 100 prospects list, and some began to write him off as a bust.
Crawford’s slow start combined with Galvis’s impressive season has seemingly trapped the budding shortstop in Lehigh Valley. Although Crawford has had a surge in productivity in the recent months, with Galvis and Cesar Hernandez solidifying the middle infield, Phillies GM Matt Klentak has yet to pull the trigger on a call up. I believe that it is more than likely we will see Crawford in a couple weeks when September call ups occur.
The question will be how Pete Mackanin uses the young infielder.
The Phillies brass have gotten creative when it comes to playing time for their young players. We saw Rhys Hoskins convert to left field before his promotion to the big leagues, allowing Tommy Joseph to continue getting time at first base. It now appears that Crawford will be trying out his skills at third base before getting his promotion. The move seems a bit surprising at first glance, but is it really that crazy of an idea?
The way I see it there are two ways this could happen.
The first is the team finding a suitor for Maikel Franco in the offseason and trading him. Back in late June, The Boston Globe reported that the 24-year-old was “more than available.” Perhaps the Phillies look for some starting pitching depth, or make a big splash with a name like Giancarlo Stanton or Christian Yelich from the Miami Marlins. Either way with Franco gone, it would clear a path to allow Crawford to assume the starting third baseman spot.
The issue with this scenario is Franco’s trade value might be at its lowest right now. He is having a miserable season thus far and the Phillies may have trouble finding a trade partner.
The other scenario is the team sending Tommy Joseph in a trade and converting Franco to first base, thus opening a spot for Crawford at third. Joseph may have some value to an American League team as a DH that would allow the Phillies to make a decent trade.
I prefer this scenario as it allows Franco a little more time to figure out if he is the player the organizaion thought he would be.
Ultimately it will depend on how Crawford handles himself at third base before the Phillies will be able to think about how to handle Franco or anyone else on the roster. Hopefully, we get a taste of what J.P. Crawford can bring to the table in a couple weeks and he can join Hoskins and Nick Williams in giving the fans a glimpse into the future.
Image: Tom Hagerty (via Flickr)