Crawford adds to pitching repertoire
Published: Tuesday, February 5, 2013 at 4:48 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, February 5, 2013 at 4:48 p.m.
Even back when he pitched only 3.2 innings as a freshman in 2011, the scouting report on Florida right-hander Jonathon Crawford has always pretty much been the same.
Live arm, great fastball, wicked slider.
Good stuff. Good enough to throw a no-hitter against Bethune Cookman in last year's NCAA Tournament.
Now, heading into his junior season, the scouting report on Crawford has changed a little bit.
His good stuff is considered even better stuff now. That's because he's added a key pitch to his already impressive arsenal — a changeup that he's been using to get batters out in the preseason.
“He threw it the other day and it looked really, really good,” UF coach Kevin O'Sullivan said Tuesday. “He probably threw it 10 to 12 times, and threw about 85 percent strikes with it.
“That's big against left-handed hitters. That's probably the biggest separator (for him) from last year. He's always had a great fastball and breaking ball. A changeup could take him to another level.”
It already has. After pitching mostly on Sundays and in mid-week games last season, Crawford has been elevated to the Friday night starting role. In college baseball, that translates to being the team's No. 1 starter.
Crawford is embracing his new status.
“It's my expectation to go out and be a Friday night pitcher and kick off the series and have a strong seven-inning performance for my team,” he said. “I guess I have the high end stuff — good fastball, good slider and changeup. Usually, Friday night guys have that.”
Last season, Crawford was not comfortable enough with his changeup to use it to try and get outs. Instead, he relied on his fastball and slider.
After working on the changeup this past summer and fall, Crawford has a potential third out pitch.
“He's throwing the ball really well,” sophomore left-hander Corey Stump said. “He's throwing the changeup really good. It's a pitch he didn't throw as much last year. That's definitely come along this year.
“It's going to impact (his performances) a lot. He got away with throwing a slider (last season). Developing that third pitch is a big deal. It will help his stock in the draft and it will help him have a good year this year.”
Crawford has come a long way in a pretty short time at Florida. Two years after pitching only 3.2 innings for the season and getting left off the UF roster for the College World Series, Crawford is in line to become the Gators' ace in his junior season.
He's got the right stuff. The good stuff.
Not only does Crawford have a new pitch going for him, he has the added experience gained from representing his country pitching for Team USA this past summer.
“He's grown up a lot,” O'Sullivan said. “He's very competitive. He lets his game do his talking. He's ready to have a really big year for us. He's been throwing the ball really well.
“He's been through a lot of adversity here. He's self-made. He's earned everything he's gotten. I'm very proud of what he's been able to accomplish for us and with Team USA this summer.”
Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Also check out Andreu's blog at Gatorsports.com.