Is J.P. Crawford The Next Great Black Shortstop?

The first two rounds of the 2013 MLB First-Year Player Draft saw 6’-5’’ hurler Mark Apel selected by his hometown Houston Astros with the first overall pick . Apel was drafted eighth overall by the Pirates last season and opted to return to Stanford University where he whiffed 130 batters in 106 innings.

It’s been reported that Apel will receive a signing bonus in the $5-6 million range, and he ecstatically tweeted “I’m coming home,” after he was selected.

MLB Network’s Harold Reynolds says he “will not be surprised if (Apel) is in the Big Leagues by July.”

While Apel’s story is surely one to watch moving forward, 16th-overall pick, J.P. Crawford is compelling as well.

Crawford, who ranked 19th on’s Top 100 Draft Prospects list, is the cousin of the Dodgers outfielder Carl Crawford, so you know multi-tooled dopeness is in the genes.

He’s also a rare “black” shortstop, considered by many experts to be the best middle infielder in the draft and only one of three taken in the first 20 picks.

Most great black ballplayers of late are outfielders or first baseman. Even guys who start out at shortstop, like retired all-star slugger Gary Sheffield, often get moved to another position.

Crawford’s glove game is projected to be MLB-made for short and he is interestingly another African-American stud drafted by the Phillies, who seem to have a nose for star black prospects in an era seemingly extinct of them.

From Jimmy Rollins (NL MVP in ‘07) to Ryan Howard (‘06 MVP) to recent emerging slugger Dominic Brown and now Crawford, the Phillies have the game of finding black diamonds in the rough on smash.

Crawford is confident and is already gunning for that shortstop position in Philly.” Hopefully I can learn something from (Rollins)" Crawford said, "and someday take his place."

Slow down young grasshopper. Rollins is coming off a 23-homer season , for now maybe you guys can play together.

Regardless, it’s rare in baseball these days that you see an abundance of African-American talent at any position. It’s a future dilemma skipper Charlie Manuel surely loves to have and it’s great look for the game of baseball.

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