Jonathon Crawford has been baffling hitters and keeping runners from crossing home plate since he began his Minor League career last year. But on Friday, he put it all together in the best start of his young professional career.
Crawford, the Tigers' No. 4 prospect, struck out a career-high nine batters over seven innings, his longest professional start, and allowed only three hits and a walk as Class A West Michigan beat Dayton, 1-0.
Crawford improved to 2-1 with a miniscule 2.16 ERA in eight starts to begin the season. Seven of the 10 earned runs he's allowed this year came in his season debut, an uncharacteristic outing against the same Dayton team he blanked on Friday.
Crawford has recorded 41 strikeouts in 41 2/3 innings, walked only 12 batters and held opponents to a .212 batting average. In short, he's given the Tigers just about everything they wanted when they picked him 20th overall in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft.
The University of Florida product permitted only one Dragons baserunner through four innings and erased him with a double play. When Sebastian Elizalde dropped a bunt single to lead off the fifth, Crawford picked him off at first base. He faced 23 batters and recorded 21 outs.
Relievers Julio Felix and Joe Mantiply took over after Crawford, each throwing a scoreless inning to give Crawford his second win of the season.
- Adam Berry
Matt Slovin is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.