Sidelined for eight games last month due to a groin injury, J.P. Crawford took the time to collect his thoughts amid what had been a trying season up to that point.
"It really gave me time to just clear my head and get back to work," the top-ranked Phillies prospect said. "Something just clicked when I was hurt. I got back and felt good. I'm slowing everything down at the plate. I'm seeing the ball and trying to not do too much and go back to my old approach. It's been working so I just have to keep trying to get better every day and stick to that approach."
Crawford continued his bounceback effort Tuesday, homering twice and plating four runs as Triple-A Lehigh Valley routed Syracuse, 8-0, at NBT Bank Stadium. It was his first multi-homer game since Aug. 24, 2014.
Video: IronPigs' Crawford goes yard
Facing Chiefs starter Jaron Long, the 22-year-old shortstop struggled to pick up the spins in his first two at-bats, striking out both times. Crawford came back with a two-run shot to right field on a full count against Long in the fifth.
"He was pitching really well, so I just tried to work a good count," he said. "I just got my hands through and put a good swing on the ball."
MLB.com's No. 4 overall prospect repeated the feat against reliever Dustin Antolin on a 1-2 offering to cap the scoring for the IronPigs.
Video: IronPigs' Crawford belts second homer
"If I'm behind in the count, I just use my hands and less body," Crawford said. "That's been the approach I'm been using the past couple of weeks and it's been working. So I'll just stick with that and see where it goes."
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The two long balls gave the 2013 first-round pick three in his past three games and extended his hitting streak to five games. His batting average is up to a season-high .216 after sitting at .145 through April.
"My confidence will never go down, that's just the way I was raised growing up," the California native said. "I'm never going to get down on myself because I know the hits are going to come eventually. I just have to put in the work every day."
And despite the anticipated criticisms that come with the burden of being a highly touted prospect, the support for Crawford kept him upbeat throughout the early woes.
"Thankfully, I have a great team and great teammates to keep my head away from all the social media and all the people barking at me when I was struggling," he said. "Plus, we were winning and having fun so that helped block out everything."
It also hasn't hurt Crawford to be in the company of Phillies No. 11 prospect Scott Kingery, who shares the Minor League lead in home runs at 22 with Triple-A Nashville's Renato Nunez.
"Ever since [Kingery] came, I started a hitting a lot better. So he needs to stay," Crawford laughed. "The guy knows how to play a game. He's a grinder and I love having him in the leadoff spot. The guy just gets after it every day, puts in the work every day. He's a great guy and a great teammate, and I love playing up the middle with him."
Batting ahead of Crawford in the leadoff spot, Kingery went 4-for-5 for his third four-hit game of the season and his first at Triple-A. The 23-year-old second baseman was promoted on June 26 from Double-A Reading after hitting .313 with 18 homers and 44 RBIs through 69 Eastern League games.
Video: Lehigh Valley's Cozens homers to right-center
Ninth-ranked Phillies prospect Dylan Cozens also provided some offense with his 19th dinger of the season, a two-run shot in the first inning.
Tom Eshelman (7-2) lowered his ERA to 1.96 after he scattered six hits and a walk while striking out four over seven innings. Jesen Therrien and Edubray Ramos tossed an inning apiece to complete the 12th shutout for the IronPigs this season.