Leo Crawford Gives The Brewers Options
In versatile swingman Brent Suter, the Brewers have an example on their pitching staff of how successful a soft-tossing lefty can be if he does things differently that mess with hitters' timing.
They think they could have another in 23-year-old Leo Crawford, whom they acquired from the Dodgers to complete the deal for veteran reliever Corey Knebel.
Crawford was not one of the Dodgers’ Top 30 Prospects and made it through the Rule 5 draft without being selected by another team. But the Brewers believe the 6-foot, 180-pound southpaw has enough potential to reach the big leagues after making strides prior to the 2020 season.
Crawford’s fastball tops out in the 88-90 mph range, but he makes it work by varying his delivery, using deception, a great changeup and a devilish pickoff move to stay in control of games as a starting pitcher.
Crawford, who signed with the Dodgers out of Nicaragua in 2014, took a step forward in the second half of 2018 at High-A Rancho Cucamonga, going 8-0, 2.77 in 13 games, including 11 starts. He split the next season between High-A and Double-A Tulsa, compiling a 2.81 ERA in 25 games (21 starts), with 134 strikeouts and 27 walks in 121.2 innings.
“I think he’s must more confident in what he’s done, and he has learned to use his timing mechanisms probably to a little bit of a greater effect,” Brewers president of baseball operations David Stearns said.
“His changeup has improved, which is probably his best offspeed offering. That has helped him, particularly against opposite-handed hitters.”
Stearns said Crawford was expected to get his first look at Triple-A in 2020 before the minor league season became a casualty of the pandemic. Instead, he pitched in his native Nicaragua, but the Brewers were trying to move him to a more competitive winter league before spring training.
As for whether he views Crawford as a starter or reliever, Stearns said the main objective is for him to log innings wherever he pitches in 2021, with the ability to adjust according to need.
— The Brewers signed outfielder/first baseman Dustin Peterson, a second-round pick by the Padres in 2013, to a minor league deal that includes an invitation to big league camp. At the time of the signing, Peterson, 26, was leading the Mexican Pacific League with 11 home runs, a .602 slugging percentage and a .975 OPS.
— Lefthander Hoby Milner and outfielder Dylan Cozens also were signed to minor league contracts with invitations to big league spring training. Milner pitched for the Angels in 2020 and Cozens spent the summer at the Rays’ alternate training site.