Phils' No. 1 prospect joins No. 2 Nola on U.S. squad
By Paul Hagen
CINCINNATI -- Shortstop J.P. Crawford, the Phillies' No. 1 prospect according to MLB.com, and right-hander Aaron Nola, ranked second, were teammates Sunday in the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game at Great American Ball Park.
The U.S. Team rolled to a 10-1 victory over the World Team before an announced crowd of 43,661 fans.
Crawford started and batted second for the U.S. Team. In the third inning his two-out RBI single drove in the tying run and he eventually came around to score. He also made a nice leaping catch of a line drive to rob World Team centerfielder Manuel Margot in the fifth and started a pair of double plays.
Nola, who pitched Friday, did not appear in the game.
The organization and its vocal fans are hoping it won't be long before the two prospects are together again in Philadelphia, playing an important role in the franchise's rebuilding.
In fact, there was a groundswell of support for Nola to be promoted after he posted a 1.88 ERA in his first 12 starts at Double-A Reading this season. The team's 2014 No. 1 Draft choice (seventh overall), out of LSU, has since been promoted to Triple-A Lehigh Valley where he's 3-0, 2.43 in five starts. It would surprise no one if he makes his Major League debut before the year is over.
Crawford, 20, is also on a fast track after being selected out of Lakewood (Calif.) High School with the 16th overall pick in 2013.
The Phillies philosophy in recent years has been to go for high school players with high ceilings in the first round. In Nola, they opted for a pitcher who was considered as close to big league ready as any pitcher available last year. He's aware of the speculation that he could be on the verge of being called up.
"I try to block that stuff out as best as I can and just focus on my next start," he said. "Wherever they have me I'm going to pitch to the best of my ability. Go out and focus on every start. Right now I'm at Lehigh Valley. There are things every ballplayer has to work on to improve their abilities."
Nola and Crawford played together for the Class A Advanced Clearwater Threshers in 2014 and crossed paths at Reading this season after the shortstop was promoted from Clearwater and before Nola was moved up to the IronPigs.
This was Crawford's second straight Futures Game appearance and he's pleased with the progress he's made since last season.
"I think I've gotten better at everything. I'm stronger. Better defensively and offensively. I think I'm getting better at everything every day," he said.
Crawford is impressed with the rotation that started the season at Reading. Not just Nola but Zach Eflin, Tom Windle and Jesse Biddle.
"This year was the first time I've seen some of them pitch and they're really good. I love playing behind them and I think we have a lot of the pieces in the organization right now to impact our future," he said.
Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.