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Gorman star Justin Crawford could go top 10 in MLB draft

The son of a successful major leaguer, Justin Crawford always knew expectations were higher for him than many of his teammates.

Each Little League game felt like a World Series to him, thinking he had to live up to being Carl Crawford’s kid. His mother, Amy Freeman, suggested when he was 12 that he try meditation, and now Crawford has made that a daily routine.

A more relaxed and confident Crawford has seen the results on the field. The Bishop Gorman High School graduate could go in the top 10 of Sunday’s Major League Baseball draft, which begins at 4 p.m. Sunday. MLB.com projected the outfielder ninth to the Kansas City Royals.

“When I was younger, I felt like it was kind of tough for me because I used to think I had to be exactly like (his dad), and I would try to copy his game,” Crawford said. “But as I’ve gotten older and matured in my own way, I’ve been able to get into the mindset of being my own self and trying to prove I’m Justin Crawford and not Carl Crawford’s son.”

If he is chosen high, Crawford would be the latest local player selected early, with most notably Bryce Harper going No. 1 in 2010 and Kris Bryant No. 2 in 2013.

Justin Crawford grew up around the game, watching Carl put together a 15-year MLB career in which he was a four-time All-Star. Carl Crawford also stole more than 40 bases seven times and four times led the league in triples. He also batted .300 or better six times and retired after the 2016 season with a .290 career average.

He even had a little bit of power, hitting 136 career home runs.

“He definitely made it easier on me and told me what to expect once I do get to pro ball,” said Justin Crawford, 18, who was born in Phoenix and moved to Southern California when he was 9.

He attended a small high school as a freshman and wanted a more high-profile place where he could maximize his ability. Crawford found what he wanted at Gorman, and the Gaels got a player with clear potential.

His potential turned into production during his three seasons at Gorman, especially his senior year when he batted an eye-popping .503 with 52 RBIs and 20 stolen bases.

“He was one of the best players I’ve ever had,” Gorman coach Gino DiMaria said. “He had a little bit more to him because of the fact he’s projected to go really high in the first round. You’ve got scouts at every practice. When we traveled, the scouts were there. They were constantly visiting with him. He had a lot on his plate, but it didn’t faze him.”

DiMaria said Crawford’s ascension up the mock drafts isn’t as much based on what he did at Gorman as what he could do in the pros.

“He has so much more to offer, and he’s only going to get better,” DiMaria said. “A lot of kids at this point peak and they’re stuck where they’re at.”

Crawford will have a decision to make considering he also committed to Louisiana State. Being drafted in the top 10 would seem to make it an easy choice to go pro, but he said he loves the idea of playing for LSU.

“That’s something I have to look at when the time comes,” Crawford said. “Whether it’s pro ball or LSU, I think I’m in a pretty good spot. They’re both pretty great places. I’m excited for either one.”

Contact reporter Mark Anderson at manderson@reviewjournal.com. Follow @markanderson65 on Twitter.

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