A little over a year after throwing a no-hitter in the NCAA Regionals as a sophomore, right-handed pitcher Jonathan Crawford made his professional debut for the Connecticut Tigers, throwing two perfect innings to begin what many hope will be a long, prosperous career.
Detroit selected Crawford with the 20th overall selection in this past June’s Draft and wasted no time in acclimating him to pro ball culture with their Short-Season Single A team in Norwich.
“[There is] not really much of a difference,” said Crawford on his first foray into pro ball. “The hitters are the same. It’s still really hard to hit so that makes pitching a lot easier. Attack the hitters and if you jump ahead and throw first-pitch strikes then pitching can be easy.”
Crawford made it look easy in his first start which came back on June 21st in Burlington, Vermont where we hurled two scoreless, hitless innings against the Lake Monsters, in the process becoming the highest drafted player to appear in a game for Connecticut.
“I was pretty excited,” Crawford said of his emotions when he hit the mound. “Probably too excited. I overthrew a little a bit. It was pure excitement really.”
It most certainly didn’t show as he retired all six batters he faced, including three by strikeout.
The astute Crawford did his best to push away the haze of excitement from the night to break down each of the batters he squared off against in his debut outing:
“First batter (Melvin Mercedes) I fell behind 2-0. Came back and he flew out to left field”
“Second batter (B.J. Boyd) it was first pitch swinging, almost a bunt, then I threw him out at first.”
“Third batter (Chad Pinder), I struck him out looking on a full count.”
“In the next inning I got a ground ball to the shortstop on a 2-2 count with the first guy (Michael Soto).”
“Next batter (Kelvin Rojas), I don’t remember.” – Struck out looking
“Last batter (Mitchell Marincov), I know went to a full count and I struck him out with a slider.”
“I threw each pitch for a strike, only threw my changeup twice, one for a ball, one for a strike.”
And so begins the professional career of Jonathan Crawford, former University of Florida Gator and winner of the 2012 Team USA International Performance of the Year honor after going 3-0 with a 2.10 ERA as part of the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team.
In his second start for Connecticut last Thursday, also against Vermont, Crawford picked up a loss, but did not allow an earned run over three innings, striking out four batters in the process.
Regarding what he brings to the hill each time out, MLB.com’s pre-draft scouting report of Crawford states that, “He has a plus fastball that can touch 96 mph and throws a hard breaking ball to go along with it…is strong with a good delivery and arm action. Everything he throws is hard.”
Crawford is scheduled to make his third start for the Tigers tonight in Lowell (tickets still available) against Red Sox 2012 second-rounder Jamie Callahan.
You can also catch Crawford, while he lasts, at Dodd Stadium in Norwich, just a short 90 minute drive from Boston.
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