When he was promoted to Class A Advanced Clearwater, J.P. Crawford made a midseason resolution to hit the weight room so he could improve his game even further. Two months later, he's reaping the results.
The Phillies' top prospect hit two homers in a game for the second time this month Sunday afternoon in the Threshers' 5-4 loss to the Brevard County Manatees at Bright House Field.
Crawford also collected a pair of roundtrippers Aug. 8 against Daytona in his first career multi-homer game and has four long balls in August after not collecting more than two in any of the previous four months.
"I definitely think my power's grown a little bit. I can feel it," Crawford said. "I've been hitting the weight room a lot more since I got here because that's becoming a focus for me. ... It's just a personal decision. I came here to work on my game and this is something that needed to be worked on."
Crawford was able to connect twice Sunday due to a sudden change of strategy by the Manatees.
Brevard County had pitched the left-handed hitter outside consistently in the first three games of the series to great effect. He was only 1-for-11 with a double and two RBIs in those contests. But when Manatees southpaw Hobbs Johnson tried to sneak an inside fastball past Crawford in the first inning, the Threshers' No. 3 hitter pulled it over the wall in right. He did the same thing for a two-run shot in the ninth off right-handed reliever Tyler Spurlin to bring the home team within a run.
"They kept pitching me away, away, away, so when they finally came inside, I just let my hands do the work," Crawford said.
The 19-year-old was taken 16th overall by the Phillies in the 2013 Draft and sports a reputation as a defense-first shortstop with 60 grades from MLB.com on his fielding and arm tools.
He has shown a good amount of potential at the plate in his first full season, however. He had a .295/.398/.405 line with three homers, 16 doubles and 14 steals in 60 games for Class A Lakewood, and after Sunday, his slash line was up to .278/.354/.420 with eight homers in 57 games in the Florida State League.
MLB.com has him ranked No. 35 overall after keeping him out of the Top 100 at the start of the season. The aggregated rankings list him higher at No. 23, behind only Carlos Correa (Astros), Francisco Lindor (Indians), Addison Russell (Cubs), Javier Baez (Cubs) and Corey Seager (Dodgers) in terms of shortstops.
It's not only the bat and power that have improved in Crawford's first full season.
"It's been a great learning experience for me," he said. "I've learned you can't get too down. You've just got a find a way to stay positive from beginning to end. I've just been going to the park, having some laughs, getting to be myself and letting everything take care of itself. ... Now it's all about playing the same every day, playing hard and leaving off on the right foot."
Manatees right fielder Michael Reed went 2-for-3 with a triple, a double, two runs scored and an RBI for the winning side. Righty reliever Jon Huizinga, who just returned to affiliated ball after an 11-year absence, got the final two outs to notch his first Minor League save since June 14, 2003.
Sam Dykstra is a contributor to MiLB.com,.