With the No. 20 pick overall in the first round of Thursday's Major League Baseball Player Draft, the Detroit Tigers selected Florida pitcher Jonathon Crawford, erasing any doubts that a less-than-stellar junior season would hurt the Okeechobee native's chances of going early.
Crawford (6-2, 205) burst onto the scene as a first-year starter as a sophomore in 2011-12, throwing a no-hitter against Bethune Cookman in the NCAA Tournament Regional to cap a year in which he compiled a 6-2 record with a 3.13 ERA and 73 strikeouts in 77.2 innings. However, with a much younger and inexperienced team behind him in 2012-13, Crawford put up a 3-6 record with a 3.84 ERA and 69 strikeouts in 86.2 innings.
Still, Detroit saw enough to make Crawford a first-round pick Thursday.
“The Tigers organization is pleased to select Jonathon Crawford this evening,” Tigers vice president of amateur scouting David Chadd told the Detroit Free Press. “He has a power arm with a plus slider and we’re thrilled to have the opportunity to add him to our organization.”
While Crawford has been to known to reach mid-90s with his fastball and has great movement on his slider, some critics pointed to the lack of a strong third pitch as to why Crawford would not be selected in the first round. Additionally, concerns about his delivery leading to control issues with his fastball also led to criticism during pre-draft analysis. It's possible Crawford could end up as a setup man or closer if those issues are not sorted.
Crawford's performance while a member of Team USA certainly helped his case for a first-round selection. He earned a win against Cuba after striking out six over 6.1 innings and finished the summer with a 3-0 record and 2.02 ERA against some of the best young talent in baseball.
Baseball America had Crawford ranked 19th overall and the ninth-best pitcher available in the draft.