Officially, Dylan Crews is being introduced by the Washington Nationals to the baseball world. We broke the news earlier this week that the framework on Crews’ deal was done and he would head to Washington to make it official after his physical which was done yesterday. The internet went crazy on Thursday when Crews was spotted after his arrival at Reagan National Airport in the DMV. Yesterday he was roaming the streets of D.C. wearing a Nats t-shirt in the afternoon, and had a beer at Walter’s in the Navy Yard. Per Jon Heyman, his deal will be just over slot and around $9 million which agrees with the math and showed that this time the Nats had the leverage against super agent Scott Boras who reps Crews. Don’t worry, Crews isn’t going poor, and that amount is the largest signing bonus to a position player in the slot value era.
First, here were general manager Mike Rizzo’s thoughts on how soon Crews could reach the big leagues along with the minor league plan:
“There is never a blueprint for when a player gets to the big leagues. [The players] make sure that we know when they’re big league ready, so you know, he’s an accomplished college player that played at the highest level that you could play at the collegiate ranks, and I think he’s a guy that we’ll assess when he gets to camp.”
“He’s played a long, strenuous, stressful season already [at LSU], and we’re not going to force feed him very hard this year, but he’s a player that we think again is going to be a big part of this group in the near future.”
“We will assess [Dylan Crews and Yohandy Morales] down in Florida, certainly when all the players come [to our West Palm Beach facility]. And I could see both of those players moving up to A-Ball, at least at Fredericksburg. I would think that is definitely realistic. Wilmington is a possibility, but that’s such a pitcher’s ballpark — I don’t know if you want to put a new guy into such a pitcher friendly ballpark, as Wilmington. So, we really haven’t decided yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they both started in Fredericksburg once they get acclimated to the organization.”
— Rizzo on 106.7 radio’s Sports Junkies show
Those words from Rizzo that “we’re not going to force feed him very hard this year” seemed to indicate that the Florida Complex League might be the start to Crews’ 2023 season — but then Rizzo almost guaranteed the move to Single-A Fredericksburg which is the lowest level the team has for a full-schedule Class-A season.
There are no equals to Crews in Rizzo’s tenure. The closest we have would be to look at what the Nats did with Anthony Rendon in his first season in pro ball in 2012? First off, there were six levels of the minor leagues back then compared to five now. Rendon started at the lowest level which back then was called the Gulf Coast League and now called the Florida Complex League. He played five games there, and then went to the NY-Penn League which does not exist any more. Rendon played eight games there. He bypassed Low-A Hagerstown due to field conditions and went straight to High-A Potomac for nine games and was promoted to Harrisburg Double-A to finish the season for 21 games, but Rendon struggled and only hit .162 with a .673 OPS. That had some concerned.
After the season Rendon crushed it in the Arizona Fall League. In 2013, he returned to Double-A Harrisburg and exceled there in a repeat of Double-A. Rendon made his MLB debut on April 21, 2013 but struggled and was sent back to Double-A after eight games. When he was called up again a month later, he hit at a .731 OPS for the remainder of the 2013 season, and the rest is history.
Who knows what the Nats will do with Crews — but slow and steady usually wins the race.
“I like to say that ‘pressure is a privilege.’ It’s how you take it. Growing up, I always played up. … Transition seemed pretty easy as I got to LSU. I feel like the transition is going to be pretty easy when I go to play for the Nationals.”— Crews said in his post-draft first media session
Few find the transition to be pretty easy. There are some. Bryce Harper and Juan Soto had easy transitions as position players — but few can say that. Mike Trout had to be optioned back to the minor leagues after he struggled in his first stint with the Angels. But maybe Crews will follow the career path of Soto and deliver on his hope about another championship for the Nats.
“I’m going to keep bringing what I’ve been bringing to the table, and hopefully, [we] will bring [another] World Series to this organization.”— Crews continued
Several games at each level like Rendon makes some sense when you put up the numbers, but certainly Crews could skip the FCL and go right to Fredericksburg. He played well and raked and then was promoted to move forward. The issue is, like Rizzo said, that there really is not a blueprint.
We reached out to some sources to see how they saw it with Crews, and points that they made is the thinking that the team’s ultimate goal would be to get him up to the Majors by at least the end of the 2024 season and play the entire 2025 on the Nats’ roster. Sounds good to me.