Welcome to Tulsa, Leo Crawford.The Dodgers left-hander struck out a career-high 11 while allowing just three hits over six innings in his Double-A debut Tuesday, leading the Drillers to a 10-0 blanking of Springfield at ONEOK Field. Crawford's previous career high was 10, most recently notched on July 9 for
Welcome to Tulsa, Leo Crawford.
The Dodgers left-hander struck out a career-high 11 while allowing just three hits over six innings in his Double-A debut Tuesday, leading the Drillers to a 10-0 blanking of Springfield at ONEOK Field. Crawford's previous career high was 10, most recently notched on July 9 for Class A Advanced Rancho Cucamonga.
Gameday box score
It was quite the first impression, and according to Tulsa pitching coach Dave Borkowski, one that couldn't have gone much better.
"If he wouldn't have given up any hits, that's about the only way it would've been better," he said. "But yeah, it was impressive. He looked like he belonged. He looked like a veteran out there. Had no fear, attacked from the get-go. It was a heck of a performance."
What impressed Borkowski most was not the strikeout total or the continuous mowing down of Cardinals batters. It was the fact the 22-year-old was just as impressive at the outset as he was at its conclusion.
"As hot as it was here and humid, he showed no signs of running out of gas ... It was impressive from pitch 1 to pitch 95," he said.
Crawford came out the gate firing, striking out the side in the first inning. The southpaw was perfect through the first four frames before giving up a single to Lars Nootbaar with one down in the fifth.
Borkowski says the driving factor behind Crawford's success early on came from his fastball and changeup -- he threw just one breaking ball all night -- but on a deeper level, his ability to stay true to himself as a pitcher.
"He set the tone by being himself," the coach said. "He came in here and established his fastball, established his changeup from the get-go ... he didn't come out and try to be better. He just attacked from the get-go and pitched within himself."
The Nicaragua native's only other flaws of the night came right after Nootbaar's spoiler single -- back-to-back hits by Cardinals No. 4 prospectElehuris Montero and No. 13 Julio Rodriguez with one out. The lefty buckled down to strike out Rayder Ascanio and 20th-ranked Angel Rondon and escape unscathed.
Crawford sat the top of Springfield's lineup down 1-2-3 in the sixth to cap his outing, ending it by snaring a rocket comebacker off the bat of second-ranked Dylan Carlson.
"I'm not sure how he caught it, or if it caught him," Borkowski laughed. "That was heck of a play. One of those days for him too -- things are going right, things like that happen."
Crawford lowered his overall season ERA to 2.77. After 19 appearances with Rancho Cucamonga, he led the California League with a 2.96 ERA while striking out 106 batters over 91 1/3 innings.
With four seasons under his belt in the Dodgers organization, there were plenty of familiar faces in the dugout for the 6-foot, 180-pound hurler to celebrate his success with.
"They were thrilled to just get him here, let alone for him to pitch that well," Borkowski said. "I think he's well liked by everybody, fits in with everybody. A true professional and great teammate. So guys were happy just to get him, and then ecstatic for the way he pitched."
Dodgers No. 16 prospectOmar Estevez finished 3-for-4 with a walk and three runs scored for the Drillers. No. 29 prospect Connor Wong went 2-for-4 with two RBIs while Cody Thomas added three hits, two RBIs and a run.
Jordan Wolf is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @byjordanwolf.