Future Phillies pushing Reading Fightins into playoff race


J.P. Crawford had 4 RBI in the Reading Fightin' Phils 8-1 win over the Trenton Thunder on Thursday. The sweep of Trenton has moved Reading a half game back of first in the Eastern Division of the Eastern League. (Photo by Kevin Durso/Philliedelphia)

By making three trades during deadline week, the Reading Fightin’ Phils picked up several new players.

Trading Jonathan Papelbon got Nick Pivetta in return. Trading Cole Hamels and Jake Diekman got Nick Williams and Jake Thompson. Trading Ben Revere got Jimmy Cordero.

These four prospects, part of the group of eight that the Phillies acquired at the deadline, were assigned to Double-A Reading.

These new faces were on display starting this week in Trenton and upon first glance, it appears the Phillies have struck gold on future pieces.

Williams, who hit lead-off in the series in Trenton, brings a smooth and powerful swing to the lineup and speed to the field. Though he wasn’t tested much defensively, offensively, he was the star of the series.

Williams went 4-for-4 with an RBI double, two home runs, three RBI, five runs scored, a walk and a stolen base.

Overall, Williams hit .538 with two double, two home runs and three RBI in the series.

J.P. Crawford’s big night came on Thursday. The shortstop was 3-for-5 at the plate and drove in four runs. Despite an error in the eighth, Crawford displayed solid defense once again.

That might be what is most telling about the 20-year-old. He’s one of this team’s leaders at a very young age and closing in on reaching the next stop on his road to the majors.

For a 20-year-old, he is composed. He carries himself well and is very much a leader. There are shades of Jimmy Rollins, both in performance and character, from Crawford.

Andrew Knapp was another standout. Knapp hit two home runs on Wednesday and backed that up with a 3-for-4 night at the plate on Thursday, raising his average to .385 on the season. He, too, is closing in on his next stop toward the majors.

Thompson’s first start couldn’t have gone any better. Thompson worked seven innings allowing one run on six hits with no walks and one strikeout.

He was sharp, his command effective. He threw 75 pitches, 51 for strikes, and getting 11 groundouts and two flyouts.

The three-game sweep in Trenton has moved the Fightins to within a half-game of the Eastern Division lead in the Eastern League. That would allow them to make the playoffs in the field of four teams.

As a team, they have gelled together nicely, and it makes the Phillies future all the more brighter.

At the start of the season, Aaron Nola was a part of this team. He is now in the majors and appears to have found a permanent home.

In another year, Crawford and Williams could easily be there. Knapp could be knocking on the door.

So if you see the Reading Fightins playing at a ballpark near you, continuing their charge to the Eastern League playoffs, it is because of top prospects like Williams, Crawford and Thompson that this is becoming a reality.

Today, it is the Eastern Division of the Eastern League. Perhaps next it will be the NL East.

Kevin Durso is editorial assistant for Philliedelphia. Follow him on Twitter @Kevin_Durso.

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