The San Francisco Giants selected Reggie Crawford with the No. 30 pick in the first round of the 2022 MLB Draft on Sunday night. Crawford, a college player from UConn (who is in the process of transferring to Tennessee), is a two-way player, as he is both a left-handed pitcher and a first baseman.
He’s a pure upside pick, which is fun because the Giants have somewhat avoided that during the Farhan Zaidi era. The ESPN broadcast noted that he might have the most upside in the entire draft, due his star potential on both sides of the diamond. But his stock has taken a plummet recently because he’s recovering from Tommy John surgery that he underwent before the season started.
Crawford is 21.6 years old, and has a fastball that ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel grades at 65/70, and tops out at 100. McDaniel ranked him as the No. 63 prospect in the draft, saying the following:
Crawford starred last summer for Team USA then had Tommy John surgery before the season. There’s relief risk, but the components here are so good he could still go as high as the comp round or in the third- or fourth-round for a well-over-slot bonus.
The Athletic’s Keith Law was a bit lower, ranking Crawford as the No. 82 prospect in the draft, with this description:
Crawford is the biggest wild card among the wild cards of the pitchers who’ve had Tommy John surgery in this draft class because he’s barely pitched, with just 20.1 innings in total across two springs with UConn, and two summers in collegiate leagues and with Team USA. He did strike out exactly half of the batters he faced in that span, sitting 94-97 mph and touching 99 mph, occasionally mixing in a fringy slider. He spent more time as a power-hitting first baseman for the Huskies who couldn’t hit a breaking ball, so the mound is probably his best bet for a big-league career. But even with the athleticism of the typical two-way player, how can you project him to start with just a huge fastball and very little track record?
Fangraphs, which lists Crawford as a 40-grade single-inning reliever, has him as the No. 88 player in the draft.
In 2021, Crawford’s last season, he pitched just 7.2 innings, and gave up 5 hits, 3 walks, and 2 earned runs, with 17 strikeouts. On the other side, he hit .295/.349/.543, with an .892 OPS, and 13 home runs in 232 plate appearances.
It’s unclear if the Giants will develop Crawford as a two-way player or not. He’s scouted as being better on the pitching end of things, but the Tommy John surgery makes that part of his game riskier. It’s worth noting that commissioner Rob Manfred did announce Crawford as a “two-way player” — though if memory serves correctly, Casey Schmitt was announced as a “third baseman and pitcher” in 2020.
If there’s an organization that can bring out the best in Crawford, it would seem to be the Giants. Whether you like the pick or not, it’s fun to see the Giants going for more of a home run swing in the first round, rather than the safer route they’ve taken the last few years.
UPDATE: After talking with reporters, Crawford confirmed that he intends to sign, despite entering the signing bonus. And that the Giants plan to develop him as both a pitcher and position player.
Reggie Crawford has confirmed that the #SFGiants plan on using him as a two-way player.— Taylor Wirth (@WirthTM) July 18, 2022
He also plans on signing.