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UConn baseball star Reggie Crawford may need Tommy John surgery, but may still be a high draft
UConn baseball star Reggie Crawford may need Tommy John surgery, but may still be a high draft

UConn baseball star Reggie Crawford may need Tommy John surgery, but may still be a high draft

When Reggie Crawford stepped off the pitch in the second round of a scimmage against Rhode Island on October 16, it was almost certainly the last time he would do so as a UConn player.

But Crawford, who suffered a partial tear in his left elbow that is likely to require surgery by Tommy John, will almost certainly be back on a bunch as a professional. In fact, UConn coach Jim Penders expects that the 6-foot 4, 235-pound left foot, which was recently ranked No. 13 college prospect for the 2022 MLB Draft by Baseball America, will still be selected early in next summer’s draft.

“If he’s not a shoo-in at the start of the first round,” Penders said, “I know nothing about baseball.”

Crawford hit .295 with a team-high 13 homers and 62 RBI as a first baseman / designated hitter for Big East champion Huskies last spring. He hit only 72/3 innings, but struck out 17 strokes, and still had to impress big league scouts with his 100 MPH-plus fastball throughout the summer.

“He has a very low mileage, very few clicks on his odometer when it comes to pitching,” said Penders, who is entering his 19th season as UConn’s head coach next spring. – I think it should be attractive for organizations. In my opinion, he has made bones. I know many scouts have shared it with me. He’s done enough. Maybe, if anything, someone else (team) thinks they have a shot at him now. ”

Crawford has had the dream of being a two-way pro at a professional level one day, and Penders does not think Crawford will change from that goal, even if he ends up being operated on by Tommy John.

“I think he’s been thinking about doing both, for as long as he can,” Penders said. “I do not think this will discourage him at all.”

Although Tommy John is the likely course, he will get second and third opinions from surgeons, a product of the well-connected counselors he has, along with former UConn players who contact him to help.

Crawford, 20, had thrown four innings in his previous outing, and was scheduled to go four against the URI, and then closed for the rest of the fall.

“It’s a shame,” Penders said, “but it’s not the end for Reggie. This is just the beginning. He has a very, very bright future. As bright a future as I have seen in baseball in college. College baseball is not the end “He’s going to do great things in professional baseball, for sure.”

Consistent with his positive personality, Crawford handles things well, according to Penders.

“Even this can not wipe the smile from his face. The boy has a mega-watt smile and a great presence for him. I’m sure he spent some nights not so happy, but he has never shown it to teammates, coaches, peers or friends. He is always positive energy. It’s just who he is. ”

Penders calls Crawford the “Reggie Regimen” because he is so disciplined about his daily workouts and taking care of himself. It will be even more important now if he chooses Tommy John, who usually takes about 12 months of rehabilitation. The pitchers bounce back even stronger after successful Tommy John surgery.

“The most difficult thing is that he has to make this decision for himself, what is best for him,” Penders said. “We can certainly guide and use our resources available to help him make that decision, but ultimately it’s up to him. We will support what he decides.

“I bet the house on Reggie Crawford,” Penders added, “every day of the week and twice on Sunday.”

david.borges@hearstmediact.com

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