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Washington Nationals news & notes: Dylan Crews - Season 1

Notes and quotes on the Nationals’ top pick in this past summer’s MLB Draft...

“I like to say pressure is a privilege,” Dylan Crews told reporters in the nation’s capital this past July of performing under a spotlight while in college at LSU, with the baseball world watching and scouting him for the 2023 Draft.

“It’s how you take it. Growing up I always played up, I was 2020 playing in the 2019 class, so expectations weren’t really a thing of mine and the transition seemed pretty easy as I got to LSU and I feel like the transition is going to be pretty easy as I go and play for the Nationals.”

Washington selected Crews, 21, with the second overall pick in this year’s draft, adding the top bat in this year’s class to their already stacked outfield mix in the minor league system.

“I know a lot of the guys, I’m familiar with a lot of the guys,” Crews said before he went first to West Palm Beach, FL (playing one game in the Florida Complex League) and then out to play first for Single-A Fredericksburg and eventually for Double-A Harrisburg where he played alongside other top prospects like Brady House, Robert Hassell III, and James Wood (the last two, of course, outfielders as well).

“It’s a good head start for us, really, you know,” Crews said of getting to know some of his teammates in the organization, and getting reacquainted with those he already knew. His personal relationship with some of those players makes the process easier.

“We kind of skip that getting to know each other part, and we get right to going and right to moving and getting to work with all these guys.”

Crews didn’t bite when a reporter asked in his introductory press conference how quickly he expected to make it up to the majors.

“I’m just going to play my game at the end of the day,” he said. “I’m going to do what I can to try my best and perform to the highest I can perform, and that decision is up to the Nats, and however fast I get up, that’s up to them, but I’m going to play my game at the end of the day.”

GM Mike Rizzo, on the night of the 2023 Draft, said Crews’s play would determine how fast he moved through the system, and they would let him develop at his own pace.

“There’s never a blueprint for when a player gets to the big leagues, they make sure that we know that they’re big league-ready,” he explained.

“[Crews is] an accomplished college players that played at the highest level you can play in the collegiate ranks. I think that he’s a guy that we’ll assess when he gets to camp. He’s played a long, strenuous, stressful season already, 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.”

Offering a quick scouting report, Rizzo said Crews was a potential “impact-type” of player.

“[He’s] a guy that helps any type of lineup. He can hit at the top of the lineup, he could be a middle of the lineup run-producer. He’s got on-base percentage credentials. He’s got batting average credentials. He’s got power numbers. He can steal a base, and he’s a two-way player. You can’t have enough of those type of players. We have an abundance of high-type prospect outfielders, but he was a guy we just couldn’t pass on when the draft came around.”

“He’s really an advanced hitter,” Special Assistant to the GM Kris Kline said. “When Dylan is locked in, he’s very skilled at driving the ball to right-center and working the middle of the diamond, and I think as he progresses in the minor leagues and at the major league level, you’re going to see him start to pull the ball more, and I think that’s where the power will start to come into play.”

Crews hit 18 of the 58 home runs he hit in college this season, and added five more when he was with Fredericksburg (going 22 for 62 at the plate, for a .355/.423/.645 line over 14 games and 71 plate appearances, before he earned a promotion to Double-A Harrisburg).

“He’s swinging the bat very well, he’s seeing the ball good, he’s playing both side of the ball great,” Rizzo said once Crews had some time with the Senators at Double-A, “and like I said when we brought him to Double-A, it didn’t matter to me what his statistics looked like, as long as he showed that he’s making strides. Getting his at-bats at that level it’s something that — batting average and that type of thing is cool to look at, but I look at more how he’s adjusting to the league and that type of thing.”

Crews went 15 for 72 (.208/.318/.278) with five doubles for Harrisburg to finish out the year.

“He looks great. He looks great,” Rizzo told 106.7 the FAN in D.C.’s Sports Junkies in an early September interview. “Both sides of the ball. He’s been playing great defense. We’ve been rotating those outfielders [Crews, Hassell III, and Wood] in left, center, and right, so they’re all getting their share of work in all the outfield positions. But [Crews is] going to be a good player for us and a guy that’s going to be a pivotal part of this rebuild and one of the faces of our next championship club. And like I said when we brought him to Double-A, this isn’t the litmus test that he has to hit X-amount and this average and this many home runs, we just want to get his feet wet and get him acclimated to a higher level of baseball, and he’ll come to Spring Training and perform and see where we put him and we’ll see where he’s at in his development, because every player develops at a different timetable and there will be a day where he will impact the big league club in a big way.”