West Michigan's Crawford heats up

No. 5 Detroit prospect holds Lake County to three hits in six frames

Jonathon Crawford amassed career highs with seven strikeouts over six innings for the Whitecaps. (Emily Jones/MiLB.com)

By Kelsie Heneghan / MiLB.com | April 29, 2014 11:56 PM ET

For a Florida native, the Midwest -- especially Michigan -- can be a pretty cold place. And while Jonathon Crawford can stay warm with multiple layers and a beanie when he is off the field, the chillier temperatures have had an effect when he is on the mound.

The Tigers' No. 5 prospect took advantage of the relatively warm weather in Eastlake, Ohio to power his way to his first professional win as Class A West Michigan topped Lake County, 4-0, on Tuesday.

"It feels great to get that first one off my chest and compete like I'm meant to do," he said. "My arm was just feeling well from get-go, [and] then I had the confidence to throw the two-seamer down the middle and get ground balls. My control was good, but my command was great."

Aside from the discomfort of being cold, low temperatures also affect the baseball; the colder the temperature, the more slippery the ball is. At 69 degrees to start the game Tuesday, Crawford (1-1) scattered three hits, fanning a career-high seven while not allowing a walk over six frames.

Since his first start of the season in which the 22-year-old allowed seven runs on five hits over 2 1/3 innings, Crawford has yielded just one run in four outings.

"I was throwing my hardest and they got seven runs in two innings," he said of the rough start. "Just kind of stepping back and pitching, not just throwing as hard as I can."

The right-hander said while pitch count has been a factor, the West Michigan coaches are keeping Crawford from long outings in an effort to help him adjust to the cold weather, so after reaching a career-high six frames, his night was over.

Staying in Florida to pitch for the Gators, the 6-foot-2 hurler didn't see snowfall until he started at Cedar Rapids on April 17. But what his Southeastern Conference college experience lacked in cold-weather games, it made up in high-quality opponents.

"The SEC is the best conference is college baseball," he said. "It definitely prepared me because the SEC batters are just as good as the ones in the Minors."                                     

Fellow SEC product Dominic Ficociello, a former Razorback, went yard against Lake County for his first homer of the season while Tim Remes plated two runs and No. 19 Detroit prospect Javier Betancourt added another.

Crawford's counterpart, Mitch Brown (0-4) took the loss after allowing three runs on six hits over five innings. It was the third straight outing in which the right-hander gave up at least three runs.

Kelsie Heneghan is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @Kelsie_Heneghan. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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