MLB DRAFT: Crawford expected to go on first day

Jul. 17—It's been a crazy week for Reggie Crawford.

It could get even crazier tonight.

The North Schuylkill graduate is projected by various media outlets to be among the top 80 selections taken in the Major League Baseball Amateur Player Draft to be held today through Tuesday in Los Angeles.

Moved from early June to July for the first time, the MLB Draft begins at 7 tonight and will be televised live by MLB Network. Tonight's portion will consist of the first two rounds, two compensatory rounds and two Competitive Balance rounds — 80 picks in all.

Rounds 3-10 will be held Monday, starting at 2 p.m., with the remainder of the draft being held Tuesday, also starting at 2 p.m.

Tuesday, Crawford announced via his social media pages that he's transferring from Connecticut to Tennessee in a seismic shift among two of the top teams in the country. Both UConn (50-16) and Tennessee (57-9) reached the NCAA Super Regionals this past season.

Crawford was the 2019 Republican Herald All-Area Baseball Player of the Year after hitting .482 with 41 hits, 39 runs scored, eight homers and 39 RBIs in helping North Schuylkill win the District 11 Class 4A championship and reach the PIAA quarterfinals his senior season.

He was taken in the 37th round (1,099th overall) of the 2019 MLB Draft by the Kansas City Royals but opted to attend UConn, where he became a two-way star as a first baseman/pitcher for the Huskies.

The 6-foot-4, 235-pounder started all 13 games as a freshman at first base in the shortened 2020 season, hitting .365 with seven doubles and 16 RBIs. He earned Collegiate Baseball Freshman All-America honors.

As a sophomore in 2021, Crawford earned ABCA Northeast Region second-team and All-Big East second-team honors after hitting .295 with 11 doubles, 34 runs scored, 13 homers and 62 RBIs. He started all 51 games he played, mainly at first base. On the mound, Crawford pitched in six games and made one start, going 1-1 with one save and a 2.35 ERA. In 7.2 innings he struck out 17.

Crawford emerged on the MLB scouts radar as a pitcher in the summer of 2021 when his fastball sat in the mid 90s and touched 100 mph while pitching in the Cape Cod League and for USA Baseball's Collegiate National Team in the summer of 2021. But Crawford hurt his elbow last fall and had Tommy John surgery, missing the entire 2022 college baseball season.

Crawford resumed throwing in March. The 21-year-old is ranked No. 59 by Baseball America and No. 80 by MLB Pipeline in their draft prospect rankings. He's projected by Baseball America to go in the second round.

Crawford is one of four area players that could be selected in this year's MLB Draft. North Carolina junior Brandon Schaeffer of Schuylkill Haven (see related story), Lehigh senior Casey Rother of Tamaqua and St. Joseph's senior Ian McCole of Shenandoah Valley could also hear their name called over the next three days.

Rother, who played first base and right field for the Mountain Hawks (26-24), was named the Patriot League Player of the Year for the second straight time after hitting .366 (74-for-202) with 19 doubles, nine homers and 50 RBIs while starting all 50 games. As a junior, he hit .329 (52-for-158) with six homers and 34 RBIs. In his four seasons at Lehigh, Rother has a .317 average with 168 hits, 17 homers and 104 RBIs.

McCole, a right-handed pitcher, played five seasons of collegiate baseball, three at Misericordia and two at St. Joseph's. He compiled a 25-12 record with a 3.95 ERA in 57 appearances (50 starts), with 234 strikeouts and 74 walks in 312.1 innings.

This past spring, he was 3-6 with a 5.70 ERA in 15 games for St. Joe's, striking out 48 and walking 22 in 77.1 innings. In May, he tossed a complete-game no-hitter against St. Bonaventure.

This summer, McCole has pitched for the Tucson Saguaros of the independent Pecos League, going 1-1 in four games, tossing 19.2 innings.

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