The Philadelphia Phillies top prospect based on the evaluations of every reputable baseball source, shortstop J.P. Crawford (the ‘J.P.’ stands for John Paul) represents the organization’s lead piece in their planned “next generation”, the centerpiece of their current rebuilding plans.
Crawford is injured right now, having suffered an oblique strain, a rib cage injury, as minor league camp was first opening at the end of March.
When Crawford returns, which is anticipated to happen around mid-May, he is expected to be assigned to begin his 2015 season with the Phillies High-A affiliates, the Clearwater Threshers.
Should Crawford progress as anticipated this season, he is very likely to reach Double-A Reading, where it would not be surprising to see him spend the majority of his summer. That would make watching him this year a very accessible option for many Phillies fans.
Crawford turned 20-years-old back in January. He was the club’s first round choice as the 16th overall selection in the 2013 MLB Amateur Draft out of Lakewood High School in California.
After signing, Crawford split that first 2013 summer between the Phillies rookie level team in the Gulf Coast League, and the Low-A affiliate Lakewood BlueClaws. Starting the 2014 season back in Lakewood, Crawford would split last summer between there and Clearwater with the High-A Threshers.
Thus far in his brief professional career, Crawford has a .292/.384/.404 slash line across 766 plate appearances, with 12 homers and 38 steals.  Defensively, he has committed 38 errors in 780 chances, all at shortstop.
While the 20-year old is resting and getting set to begin his season, I was able to catch up with him for a quick interview. He proved to be very accessible and personable.
Here is my exclusive Q&A with the Phillies shortstop of the future:

“My dad and Carl (big-league cousin Carl Crawford) said to have fun in doing it. To remember that it’s still a game.” ~ Crawford

“Rollins and Jeter were my favorites to watch. Being African-American and playing shortstop, I wanted to be just like them.” ~ Crawford

MV: You’re still very young, who introduced you to the game as a kid?
JPC: My older sister. I’d go out to her practices when I was young. Then when I was old enough, I started to play.
MV: Can you talk about your experiences with the Urban Youth Academy and the RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities) programs?
JPC: Good memories going to the RBI World Series, and winning that in Miami, and getting the MVP at Marlins Park. They helped me a lot with my game, and can’t thank them enough. Gave me special opportunities.
MV: In that youth experience, any specific people who helped develop your game?
JPC: Lisa Beato. She was the best coach growing up, and she taught me how to compete, and how to win.
MV: Your dad, Larry Crawford, played in the CFL (Canadian Football League), and cousin Carl Crawford is in MLB. Did you receive any advice from them in transitioning to pro sports?
JPC: My dad and Carl said to have fun in doing it. To remember that it’s still a game.
MV: Any favorite or admired players growing up, or today?
JPC: Jimmy Rollins and Derek Jeter were my favorites to watch. Being African-American and playing shortstop, I wanted to be just like them.
MV: Your offensive game – hitting, power, steals – how do you see yourself? Do you feel that you can become a 20-20 or more type of player at the MLB level?
JPC: I’ve been working on getting stronger. So I think there’s a good possibility that a 20-20 can happen.
MV: How are you healing up? Do they give you a timetable, any game plan on a return yet?
JPC: The healing process is going great, getting better and better every day. I don’t know when I’ll be ready, but I’m going to come back stronger than before.
MV: Good luck on everything, and thanks for taking the time. Ever want to share anything or get anything out to the Phils fans, you can always come this way.

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