‘Time will tell’ if Giants prospect Crawford is the next Ohtani

When the Giants selected Reggie Crawford 30th overall in the 2022 MLB Draft, the first-round pick instantly became one of the team’s hottest prospects.

That plotline is sparked by Crawford’s two-way prowess on the mound and at the plate — an ability synonymous with Los Angeles Angels phenom Shohei Ohtani these days.

With Giants fans hungry for a star, some are pitching their off-season aspirations in the direction of impending free agent Ohtani. But could MLB’s next two-way star be in San Francisco’s farm system?

“I guess time will tell, you know?” Crawford told NBC Sports Bay Area’s Carlos Ramirez after the San Jose Giants’ 10-1 victory over the Fresno Grizzlies at Excite Ballpark on June 1.

The 22-year-old made his singles A debut with Low-A San Jose on May 24, 21 months after undergoing Tommy John surgery on his left elbow in October 2021. Crawford allowed five earned runs in nine innings pitched for the San Jose Giants so far and are 4 for 16 in nine games at DH, with two doubles and a home run.

As a two-way prospect, his day-to-day is a bit different from that of his teammates. Crawford typically trains with pitchers and positional players, and he told Ramirez that so far, no two days are quite alike.

It all depends on the games he is the starting pitcher for, how his body feels and what his coaches want.

“I’m going to throw with the pitchers, take my time throwing, then jump with the position guys, get some ground balls early, do some swings,” Crawford told Ramirez. “So what does it look like in terms of the days, it just differs, you know? And also, I’ve only been here a week, so that plays into that as well.

The San Jose Giants coaching staff took care to manage Crawford’s workload, he added, making sure he didn’t strain his body competing both on the hill and in the surface. His goal for the season is just to stay healthy, and he thinks the rest will take care of itself.

And, perhaps, his two-way talent will translate to big league level.

“I mean, I know what I’m doing day to day,” Crawford told Ramirez. “I know I’m putting myself in the best position to make it happen. If it happens, it happens. If it’s not, it’s not. But the peace of mind for me is that I have the ability to try it.

“That’s the big deal for me because, looking back, if it was one of those scenarios where, say, I put the bat down, I wouldn’t be able to live with myself.”

But for now, Crawford is taking things day by day as he gets back into the rhythm of things after the surgery. He also resembles Ohtani in that they both had Tommy John surgery on their throwing arms, and the young prospect believes he could learn a lot from the Japanese star when it comes to preparation.

“I have to try to talk to him to see what he’s doing and how they’re planning it,” Crawford told Ramirez. “I’m going to have to figure out how I can do that, but it’ll probably be in the cards hopefully soon to get in touch with him to choose his brain and figure out the best way to make it work.”

Maybe they could chat one day as Orange and Black teammates. As unlikely as it may seem, Crawford knows the best for himself is yet to come.

“I feel like there’s still a lot of growth to be done, which is the most exciting part for me,” Crawford said.

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