MLB Draft

Giants' Eldridge excited to follow Crawford's two-way path

NBC Universal, Inc.

A year ago at this time, Bryce Eldridge was watching the MLB draft from his home in Virginia when a team across the country caught his attention. The Giants used their 2022 first-round pick on Reggie Crawford and announced him as a two-way player.

"It was awesome, because it was something I was looking forward to doing, getting drafted as a two-way player," Eldridge said on a Zoom call on Monday. "I've known the (Crawford) name for a while now, and now I get to be buddies with him, be teammates with him. I'm pumped up for that."

The first-rounders didn't wait long to start building that bond. Crawford, who is pitching and playing DH for the Low-A San Jose Giants, reached out to Eldridge shortly after he was taken 16th overall on Sunday night. They exchanged numbers, and as Eldridge starts down a career path that still is pretty rare, he's looking forward to following in Crawford's footsteps.

A day after he was drafted, Eldridge said he'll sign soon and is excited to get out to the team's facility in Scottsdale, which he visited for a private workout before the draft. The Giants initially will let him play both ways, and that's exactly what Eldridge wants.

The Virginia native was the state's player of the year after posting a 1.06 ERA on the mound as a senior and batting .422 with eight homers at the plate. But while he has the same two-way designation as Crawford, they might take different paths. 

As exciting as it is to imagine a homegrown two-way star at Oracle Park, it's still an extremely difficult way to get to the big leagues. Most scouts view Crawford as a future pitcher, and that's the side the Giants will prefer if they ever have to choose. Eldridge said about half of the teams he talked to before the draft preferred that he stick to one side of the ball, and they all viewed him as a hitter in professional baseball.

"My preference is definitely to do both," he said. "That was something that was a big goal of mine going into the draft, was finding a team that wanted to let me do both. Obviously the Giants have Reggie Crawford and are working that out with him, so we're going to get on that same plan and keep getting both a lot better. That's the goal moving forward."

As Eldridge chased that dream for James Madison High School in Vienna, Virginia, he drew obvious comparisons to Shohei Ohtani. He said Ohtani is someone he has looked up to, but he wants to be the first Bryce Eldridge, not the American Ohtani. 

"I want to be able to leave a big mark on the game in my own way," Eldridge said.

Perhaps it wasn't a surprise, then, that Eldridge mentioned two other superstars when asked who he idolizes. His favorite pitcher is Justin Verlander, and as a Nationals fan, he has tried to pattern his left-handed swing after Bryce Harper, although that hasn't always been easy. 

Eldridge was 6-foot-3 already as he was approaching high school and said he dealt with growing pains in his muscles and bones. But over his four years at James Madison, he was able to add weight and flexibility to his tall frame.

Despite the height, it was baseball that was always his first love, and the only other sport he played in high school was one season of freshman football -- "I liked hitting people, but obviously that's not good for the shoulder," he explained -- not basketball.

Hitters as tall as Eldridge tend to have long swings, but the Giants saw a relatively short stroke that consistently got to tremendous raw power. 

"I watched Bryce Harper play when he was coming through the league and I really mimicked my swing as best as I could after  him while growing up. It's a sweet left-handed swing.," he said. "I've always been tall, but I grew really tall when I was still really skinny and going into high school, and I kinda got all out of whack and was not very coordinated and that's when my swing got long. 

"I just got more mobile, more flexible, stronger. I kind of (grew) into my body because I had been growing so quick, and that's when I started to really work on a shortened swing. It's been working out for me."

The Giants were there throughout, first seeing Eldridge in 2021 and attending nearly all of his games this past season. They met with him in Virginia late last year, and if the schedule lines up, Eldridge's first experience with the current big leaguers could come a short drive from his parents' house. 

The Giants visit the Nationals next weekend and Eldridge said he's planning to be there -- unless he already happens to be in Arizona, starting what could be a fascinating career with the Giants.

"It was something I wanted, it was something they wanted," he said of getting selected on Sunday. "It all happened really quickly. I got the phone call and two minutes later, I'm a Giant, so it was pretty cool."

Download and follow the Giants Talk Podcast

Contact Us