Crawford's potential wins over Tigers


Published: Friday, June 7, 2013 at 10:06 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, June 7, 2013 at 10:06 p.m.

Looking back, Jonathon Crawford wished his junior season at Florida could have ended on a more positive note.

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Crawford, a fastball-slider pitcher who throws between 92 and 96 miles per hour, will begin his career in the Tigers' minor league system as a starter. (The Associated Press)

The Gators were bounced in two games in the Bloomington, Ind., regional and finished the year 29-30. All season, Crawford dealt with the expectations of being projected as a high draft pick.

“It was a pretty big challenge,” Crawford said on a conference call Friday morning. “I don't think I dealt with it as well as I could have.”

But after finishing his junior year 3-6 with a 3.86 earn-run average, Crawford's potential was still too much to pass up. The Detroit Tigers selected Crawford in the first round (20th overall) in Major League Baseball's June Amateur Draft on Thursday. Crawford watched the draft at home with family and friends when his name was called.

Tigers vice president of scouting David Chadd said Crawford, a fastball-slider pitcher who throws between 92 and 96 miles per hour, will begin his career in the minors as a starter.

“With any amateur player that we draft, there's always going to be adjustments,” Chadd said “But Jonathon brings that arsenal to the table now and that's what attracted us to him.”

Chadd also said Crawford's up-and-down junior season was somewhat offset by his performance last summer with USA Baseball. He earned USA Baseball's International Performance of the Year award after going 3-0 with a 2.02 ERA. As Team USA's starter against Cuba in the inaugural USA vs. Cuba series in Havana, Crawford struck out six in 6.1 innings and picked up the win.

“He threw 20 innings against Team Cuba, (a team) that we feel had some professional hitters,” Chadd said. “When you put the whole body of work together, that helped make our decision easier.”

Crawford has the option to return to Florida for his senior season if he chooses not to sign with the Tigers, but appears ready to work out a deal. He said he feels confident that he'll be able to continue to develop his change-up as a third pitch.

“I definitely feel like I can get outs with it when I need to,” Crawford said.

Crawford isn't the only pitcher on UF's staff that appears headed for the pros. On Friday, Florida junior lefty reliever Daniel Gibson was picked in the seventh round (210th overall) by the Arizona Diamondbacks. In 32 appearances, including one start, the 6-foot-3, 220-pound Gibson went 2-1 with a 4.42 ERA. Opponents hit .258 against him this season.

In addition, three of UF's 18 signees for 2013 were taken out of high school in the draft Thursday and Friday, including shortstop Christian Arroyo (first round, 25th overall pick, San Francisco Giants), right-handed pitcher Tyler Danish (second round, 55th overall, Chicago White Sox) and left-handed pitcher Sean Brady (fifth round, 141st overall, Cleveland Indians).

The Major League Baseball June Amateur draft will conclude with rounds 11 to 40 today.

Contact Kevin Brockway at 352-374-5054 or brockwk@gvillesun.com. Also check out Brockway's blog at Gatorsports.com.

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