The Yankees acquired outfielder Rashad Crawford in July of 2016 along with Gleyber Torres, Billy McKinney and Adam Warren in the deal that sent closer Aroldis Chapman to the eventual World Series champion Chicago Cubs. The 24-year old Crawford was originally selected in the 11th round of the 2012 draft by the Cubs out of Mundy’s Mill High School in Clayton, GA and signed for slot money.
Crawford was drafted as a switch hitter but turned him into solely a left-handed swinger once they got him into their system. In his first taste of pro-ball in 2012, Crawford appeared in only nine games and hit just .167 for the Cubs rookie ball affiliate before going on the DL.
In 2013, Crawford played a full season of rookie ball,. In 42 games, he hit just .210 but was successful on 10 of 11 stolen base attempts. Despite striking out 39 times, the Cubs were comfortable in allowing their 19-year old outfielder with to gain an understanding of a strike zone at the professional level.
Crawford advanced to short-season Boise for the first time in 2014, and it was there where he began to hit more consistently (.259), but still struck out 83 times in 71 games while drawing just 16 walks as a 20-year old. Crawford played 70 games in centerfield and flashed above average defense that drew praise from many in the Cubs organization.
The 2015 season really put Crawford on the map as a prospect after a big year for the Cubs Low-A affiliate in South Bend on the Midwest League. As a 21-year old, Crawford slashed .280/.322/.382 with four homers, 50 RBI and 20 stolen bases. He also hit 15 doubles and five triples that season.
Crawford began the 2016 season with High-A Myrtle Beach where he slashed .255/.327/.386 with 30 RBI and 22 stolen bases in 83 games before the Cubs dealt him to the Yankees. After acquiring him, the Bombers placed Crawford at Tampa where he hit .291 and drove in 18 runs over the final 29 games of the season.
After two straight promising seasons, the Yankees gave Crawford his first taste of the minor leagues upper levels by placing him at Double-A Trenton to begin the season, and he struggled to make the necessary adjustments to the advanced pitching of the Eastern League. The 23-year old began the year in the leadoff spot as the everyday centerfielder for Manager Bobby Mitchell, but by the end of the season, he was no longer being used in an everyday role and struggled when he was able to find at-bats. In 106 games for the Thunder, Crawford slashed .210/.268/.306 (his lowest outputs since 2013).
Crawford stands at 6’3″ and weighs in at a solid 225-pounds. He is extremely athletic and his best tools is his speed. While he has posted double-digit stolen base numbers in every season since 2013, he struggles to get on base consistently to utilize it to his advantage. While Crawford has worked hard to improve his walk numbers and cut down on the strikeouts, he has seen his walks decline in two straight seasons while he has struck out at least 90 times in three straight seasons. Crawford has the ability to play all three outfield spots at a high-level, but his inability to perform consistently offensively makes him a far less appealing option for the organization moving forward considering the depth of talented young outfielders already in tow.
After posting arguably the worst numbers of his career in Trenton last season, Crawford was left unprotected by the Yankees for last months Rule 5 draft, where he was not selected. He will almost certainly return to repeat the level in hopes that he can make the necessary adjustments to Eastern League pitching to restore his standing in the organization