Reggie Crawford

Giants prospect Crawford to focus on pitching after two-way attempt

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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- When the Giants announced their non-roster invitee group last spring, they listed a two-way player -- Ronald Guzman -- for the first time. A year later it was notable that first-round pick Reggie Crawford was listed only with the pitchers, and on Wednesday the left-hander confirmed that the two-way plan has been scrapped.

The Giants drafted Crawford as a two-way player and let him try both last season, his first as a professional, but scouts and team officials have long believed his future is on the mound. Crawford said he thought a lot about the decision in the offseason and decided to focus on pitching, noting that making the switch now will allow him to settle into a starter's routine and more easily manage his workload and take care of his body. He still will occasionally take batting practice, just to keep those skills.

"We're going to keep (hitting) in the back pocket and try to figure out how to plan out BP a few times a week, but the primary focus is pitching," he said. 

The 23-year-old is in big league camp for the first time after reaching High-A last season, although he will get a late start. Crawford strained his left lat while throwing changeups last week and will take three to four weeks off from throwing. If there were any doubts about the decision to shelve hitting, the injury provided a reminder of how taxing even trying to master one side of the game can be on the body. 

The Giants are hopeful that Crawford, once healthy, can move quickly, joining a large group of young pitching prospects that started to arrive last summer and now will be counted on to help the Giants work through 162 games. Given how aggressive the front office has been with promotions, it wouldn't be a surprise to see Crawford in Double-A relatively quickly. 

As he recovered from Tommy John surgery last year, Crawford made 13 starts in A-ball and struck out 32 batters in 19 innings. He had a 2.84 ERA overall but allowed just one earned run in eight innings in High-A. The Giants were extremely strict with his pitch counts, but that'll change this season and Crawford said he's excited about getting deeper into games and adding to his repertoire. 

Even with the hitting dream dashed, Crawford remains one of the organization's best prospects. He flashed an upper 90s fastball and sharp breaking ball in limited time last year and Baseball America ranks him as the organization's No. 9 prospect, six spots behind Bryce Eldridge, a fellow first-rounder and two-way player. 

While Eldridge is viewed as a bat-first player who ultimately is likely to gravitate toward that side of the game, Crawford's carrying tool has always been the electric fastball. The Giants limited him to just 17 at-bats last season and he met with team officials a couple of weeks ago, with the new plan put in place. He's a pitcher now, and he has no regrets.

"I'm happy, I'm backing (the decision) 110 percent," Crawford said. 

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