Yep, our bonus category this year is inspired by the Giants 2022 first round pick, Reggie Crawford.
Every couple of years, a 2-way player out of college gets drafted with buzz that he might stay a 2-way, but it does not take long before his new employer chooses to have such a player drop one side or the other. Giants third base prospect Casey Schmitt was a reliever in college, but has never pitched in any serious way as a pro.
But then the phenom known as Shohei Ohtani came to Major League Baseball, and the first modern 2-way superstar was born. It’s very likely any future entertaining of 2-way players will be because of Ohtani’s influence.
And that brings us to Reggie Crawford. Crawford is a very raw player, with just two years of college under his belt, and his 2022 season being lost to Tommy John surgery, Crawford brings power at the plate and on the mound. But Crawford has just 16.1 innings of college pitching under his belt, half of those in summer leagues, and looks more like a reliever than a starter.
Can a 2-way player survive as a reliever? Probably not. 2022 introduced the so-called “Shohei Ohtani rule”, which allows a pitcher to remain in a game as a designated hitter after he is removed as pitcher. What there is not is an obvious way for a designated hitter to stay in the game as a pitcher, without losing the designated hitter role. The current rule says that if a designated hitter plays in the field, the team will lose the DH for the rest of the game. What that means is that a pitcher who can only go 1-2 innings would really only work as an opener or a closer, and even then, as a closer it would be a risk.
That leaves Crawford’s future as a 2-way player very much in doubt. He will need to develop his skills both as a hitter and a pitcher to have a real chance to be a 2-way player long-term. In the minors, relievers are more scheduled than in the big leagues, so the team can work around his days as pitchers, but that won’t last.
So, why make a list of one about 2-way prospects when it’s unlikely even this one player will be one? Could it be a way to avoid ranking Crawford with the pitchers with so little to go on? Maybe…
But who knows what the future may hold. Shohei Ohtani may be a pipe dream as a free agent for the 2024 season, but with two possible mid-first round 2-way player prospects for the 2024 draft in Braden Montgomery and Bryce Rainer, maybe the time for the 2-way player may still come.
#1 – Reggie Crawford
Raw and power are two words to describe Reggie Crawford. Both in terms of his raw power, in his high-90’s fastball and home run swing, and in terms of powerfully raw, as Crawford barely threw 16 innings combined in college and summer leagues (with a bit more for Team USA). The truth is that teams, including the Giants, like Crawford’s pitching more than his hitting, but for now, the team will continue to use him as a 2-way player.