Under the Radar Yankees Prospects: Rashad Crawford


Yanks Go Yard is combing through the New York Yankees minor league system in search of hidden gems in this ongoing series. Today, outfielder Rashad Crawford.

While outfielder Rashad Crawford was largely seen as a throw-in as the fourth piece in the trade that sent Aroldis Chapman to the Chicago Cubs at the trade deadline, the toolsy 23-year-old opened some eyes in his new organization down the stretch for the High-A Tampa Yankees.

There is no denying that the real prizes of that trade were potential superstars Gleyber Torres and Billy McKinney, but in Crawford, the Yankees may have landed a third player who has the potential to become a legitimate prospect.

Crawford hit .291/.381/.364 in 127 plate appearances in the Florida State League after coming over to the Yankees. He finished the year with a .264/.341/.380 slash line with 26 steals in 33 attempts (78.8% success rate) in 497 plate appearances, all in High-A.

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Most impressively, Crawford took major steps forward with his plate discipline. He cut down his strikeout rate from 26% the previous year to 20.1% this season. At the same time, he nearly doubled his walk rate from 5.1% in 2015 to 9.7% in 2016.

Tampa Yankees manager Patrick Osborn sounded impressed with his newest player after the deadline, telling Randy Miller of NJ Advance Media:

"I was told that it was a great job by our scouts to get him involved in this trade. He was a basketball player in high school who didn’t play baseball full-time until he got drafted…He’s a plus-plus runner, plays a really good center field and he’s got a nice looking swing. He’s a kid who wasn’t a high pick, but he has a really high ceiling. His potential really hasn’t been tapped into yet."

Crawford’s late start to the game explains why he’s still rough around the edges for 23, but his athleticism makes him a potential late bloomer. His plus speed gives him a real advantage on both sides of that ball. His stolen base totals have increased steadily each of the past five years (4, 10, 14, 20, 26). He’s also a ball hawk in center field. There are few balls he can’t get to with those wheels.

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At the very least, Crawford seems like a good bet to surface as a useful bench option after another year or two of seasoning in the upper-minors. He’s probably in line to start next year with Double-A Trenton, although the expected glut of outfielders in Triple-A could make advancing beyond that any time soon a difficult proposition.