Scouting Jake Thompson and Other Phillies Prospects

I’ll be in California for the next few days at the Area Codes and some Cal League stuff, but below are some thoughts on three Phillies prospects I’ve seen recently, including Jake Thompson, who debuts today.

Jake Thompson, RHP, Philadelphia Phillies

I saw Thompson a few weeks ago and he struggled with command. I don’t think strike-throwing is a long-term issue here — at least not so much that it will prevent him from starting — but I do think it impacts the effectiveness of his slider and that the most important part of his development at the major-league level will be locating that pitch where he wants when he wants. It’s often plus and should be so consistently at maturity. Thompson had issues locating it for me for the first half of his start until a mid-game at-bat during which C Andrew Knapp called for six straight sliders. It was a great opportunity for Thompson to find his slider, and it worked: Thompson located it for the rest of his start. It’s his best option for swings and misses to both right- and left-handed hitters. It was anywhere from 83-86 during this particular start though I’ve seen it up to 87 in the past.

Thompson’s fastball sits 90-93 and tops out around 94. His low-80s changeup has average projection, as does his curveball, which is slower and more vertically oriented than his slider. It’s a league-average starter’s profile for me.

J.P. Crawford, SS, Lehigh Valley (Triple-A)

Crawford is among the best athletes I’ve scouted. His body control allows him to make strong and accurate throws from various platforms (like this) and he has excellent range despite being just an average runner. He has good defensive footwork and is great around the bag, though some routine plays have eluded him this year. Given Crawford’s youth (he’s just 21 years old), I’m still more concerned about sheer tools than I am technical refinement, and Crawford has the physical ability to be a plus defender at short, if not better. His arm is plus.

Crawford’s footwork in the batter’s box has undergone many changes throughout his career. As a first-year pro, Crawford’s front foot would often bail down the first-base line and force him to desperately slap at anything on the outer half. That was quickly ironed out and he began to have more offensive success than lots of evaluators (raises hand) anticipated he’d have with the bat early in his career. Late last year, Crawford began to take a stride-less approach with two strikes, something with which he didn’t look very comfortable during a brief stint in the Fall League. Even this year, Crawford’s footwork has undergone maintenance, but since mid-June when he began using his current setup (starting open, striding closed, getting his front foot down early and then just shifting his weight forward and rotating his hips into contact). Crawford is hitting .321/.383/.406.

Crawford will golf out some homers but, because of where loads his hands, he has trouble driving anything up in the zone and instead mashes a lot of driveable pitches into the ground. He’s still relatively short to the ball, has plus bat speed and decent bat control. Again, Crawford is 21 and his physical ability is still far more important than mechanical refinement at this point, but I’m less apt to predict significant adjustments here because Crawford has been successful and it doesn’t make sense to disrupt that. I think it’s an average hit tool that plays up a bit thanks to Crawford’s plate discipline, and he might get on base enough to justify a place near the top of a lineup. There’s just a lot about the swing right now that suggests strong contact exclusively to the pull side and a lot of grounders and pop ups.

Dylan Cozens, OF, Reading (Double-A)

Cozens has plus-plus raw power and hits balls out to all fields. He hit a hanging slider out of First Energy Stadium in Reading while I was there last month and made Petco Park his personal launching pad during batting practice at the Futures Game. His swing is geared for it with the big leg kick and heavy uppercut.

I think it’s fair to question how much Cozens is going to hit. His offspeed recognition is poor and the aggressive weight transfer that helps him to generate so much power often leaves him helplessly out on his front foot, waving at pitches that haven’t reached the hitting zone yet. He’s struck out in almost 30% of his plate appearances this season. If Cozens can somehow manage to become just a 40 hitter, then I’d be confident that the power would carry him to big-league value. But considering the track record for hitters who have struck out this much and what I’ve seen from him in person, I’m not sure he can.

Eric Longenhagen is from Catasauqua, PA and currently lives in Tempe, AZ. He spent four years working for the Phillies Triple-A affiliate, two with Baseball Info Solutions and two contributing to prospect coverage at Previous work can also be found at Sports On Earth, CrashburnAlley and Prospect Insider.

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6 years ago

JP Crawford sounds a lot like Brandon Crawford.