Pipeline preview: Crawford tries to stay in character

After rare blip, Tigers' No. 4 prospect has dominated entering game vs. Dayton

Pipeline preview: Crawford tries to stay in character

Throw away one ugly start to kick off the year, and one thing is obvious: It's awfully hard to score against Tigers prospect Jonathon Crawford.

Detroit's No. 4 prospect gave up seven runs over 2 1/3 innings in an uncharacteristic start on April 4. It's out of character for Crawford, because in 15 professional starts since last year, he's given up more than one earned run exactly twice: his 2014 debut and July 3, 2013, when he was charged with two runs.

This season, Crawford has jumped out to a 1-1 record and a 2.60 ERA, striking out 32 batters, walking 11 and holding opposing hitters to a .226 average in 34 2/3 innings. Since his early-season clunker, the 22-year-old right-hander has posted an 0.84 ERA in six starts, allowing three runs in 32 1/3 innings.

Fans can watch on MiLB.TV as Crawford looks to keep his impressive run of starts alive Friday, when he is slated to take the mound for Class A West Michigan as the Whitecaps play at Dayton. First pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET.

While Crawford has been puzzling hitters, opposing Minor League pitchers have been faced with a different kind of riddle lately. How do they get out Oscar Taveras, Javier Baez and Bubba Starling?

Taveras, ranked second on MLBPipeline.com's Top 100 Prospects list, has gone 10-for-15 over his last three games. The Cardinals' top prospect is now batting .322/.368/.520 with six homers and 35 RBIs this season.

Baez and Starling, meanwhile, seem to have shaken off slow starts. Baez, baseball's No. 6 prospect, is on a seven-game hitting streak. During that span, the Cubs' top prospect has hit .429 (12-for-28) with three homers, five doubles and six RBIs while raising his average from .142 to .201.

Though he hasn't crossed the Mendoza Line yet, Starling is on an 11-game hitting streak after a pair of multi-hit games Wednesday and Thursday. The Royals' No. 7 prospect is batting .359 (14-for-39) during that streak, and he's posted a .429 on-base percentage and a .444 slugging percentage over his last 10 games. The fifth overall pick in the 2011 Draft has yet to deliver on his considerable promise, but the last 11 games have at least been a step in the right direction.

Top prospect probables
Jason Adam (Royals' No. 8), NW Arkansas vs. San Antonio
Miguel Almonte (Royals' No. 5), Wilmington vs. Frederick
Tyler Anderson (Rockies' No. 10), Tulsa at Frisco
Zachary Bird (Dodgers' No. 13), Great Lakes vs. South Bend
Ty Blach (Giants' No. 6), Richmond vs. Trenton
Andrew Chafin (D-backs' No. 12), Reno at Albuquerque
Michael Clevinger (Angels' No. 12), Inland Empire at Lancaster
Tim Cooney (Cardinals' No. 9), Memphis vs. Oklahoma City
Jonathon Crawford (Tigers' No. 4), West Michigan at Dayton
Ryan Eades (Twins' No. 20), Cedar Rapids at Quad Cities
Zach Eflin (Padres' No. 11), Lake Elsinore at Rancho Cucamonga
Edwin Escobar (Giants' No. 2), Fresno at Salt Lake
Michael Feliz (Astros' No. 10), Quad Cities vs. Cedar Rapids
Kendry Flores (Giants' No. 20), San Jose vs. Visalia
Marco Gonzalez (Cardinals' No. 4), Springfield at Midland
J.R. Graham (Braves' No. 6), Mississippi at Chattanooga
Taylor Jungmann (Brewers' No. 8), Huntsville at Montgomery
Zach Lee (Dodgers' No. 4), Albuquerque vs. Reno
Ben Lively (Reds' No. 12), Bakersfield vs. High Desert
Jose Martinez (D-backs' No. 5), South Bend at Great Lakes
Jon Moscot (Reds' No. 20), Pensacola vs. Birmingham
Jimmy Nelson (Brewers' No. 1), Nashville at New Orleans
Braulio Ortiz (White Sox No. 17), Winston-Salem at Lynchburg
Tyler Pike (Mariners' No. 9), High Desert at Bakersfield
Chris Reed (Dodgers' No. 6), Chattanooga vs. Mississippi
Sal Romano (Reds' No. 14), Dayton vs. West Michigan
Victor Sanchez (Mariners' No. 6), Jackson at Jacksonville
Tyler Skulina (Cubs' No. 18), Kane County vs. Clinton
Logan Verrett (Mets' No. 20), Las Vegas vs. Sacramento
Austin Voth (Nationals' No. 16), Hagerstown vs. Asheville
Bobby Wahl (A's No. 7), Beloit vs. Wisconsin
Tom Windle (Dodgers' No. 7), Rancho Cucamonga vs. Lake Elsinore

Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.