Crawford leads IronPigs to win

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What’s more, Crawford is enjoying his most productive stretch of the season so far, as he pushed his hitting streak to six games with Tuesday’s big performance. The 22-year-old shortstop is batting .389 with five extra-base hits during that stretch, which in turn has boosted his average to a season-best .216

Crawford has looked like his usual top-prospect self since his return from an eight-game absence in mid-June — one that he used to both recover from a minor groin injury and to clear his head after batting .194/.313/.252 in his first 56 games. In 15 games since rejoining the lineup, he’s posted a .293 average with 10 extra-base hits in 15 games.

“It really gave me time to just clear my head and get back to work,” Crawford told “Something just clicked when I was hurt. I got back and felt good. I’m slowing everything down at the plate. I’m seeing the ball and trying to not do too much and go back to my old approach. It’s been working so I just have to keep trying to get better every day and stick to that approach.

“My confidence will never go down, that’s just the way I was raised growing up,” he added. “I’m never going to get down on myself because I know the hits are going to come eventually. I just have to put in the work every day.”

Dylan Cozens (No. 9) also homered in the victory, as it was his two-run blast in the first inning which started the scoring for Lehigh Valley. The 23-year-old outfielder is up to 19 homers this season, second in the International League, after pacing the Minors with 40 in 2016.

Scott Kingery (No. 11) paced the IronPigs’ offense out of the leadoff spot by going 4-for-5 with a double and two runs scored. He’s hitting .361 with six extra-base hits in nine games since being promoted to Triple-A.

“Ever since [Kingery] came, I started a hitting a lot better. So he needs to stay,” Crawford said. “The guy knows how to play a game. He’s a grinder and I love having him in the leadoff spot. The guy just gets after it every day, puts in the work every day. He’s a great guy and a great teammate, and I love playing up the middle with him.”

The rest of the best performances from top prospects Tuesday

• No. 22 overall prospect Brent Honeywell (Rays’ No. 2) returned to form as he scattered three hits over six scoreless frames to pace Triple-A Durham in a shutout of Charlotte. He threw 62 of his 93 pitches for strikes in the outing while walking one and striking out nine. It marked the 22-year-old right-hander’s fifth outing with nine or more strikeouts in 15 starts with the Bulls.

“Nothing really drastic has changed,” Honeywell told “I’ve been working with Kyle Snyder, my pitching coach, and me and my catchers have been on the same page every start. I had a tough hand, man. I think that’s it. I haven’t really done anything different. It was refreshing to get back on track because I know that’s how I throw the ball.”

• No. 29 overall prospect Tyler O’Neill (Mariners’ No. 2) pushed his home run total to 13 as he went deep twice and scored three runs in a 3-for-5 effort Triple-A Tacoma. The 22-year-old masher has been heating up of late, with a .340 average, seven home runs and 17 RBIs over his last 12 contests.

• No. 34 overall prospect Jay Groome (Red Sox’s No. 2) tossed five scoreless frames of one-hit ball with one walk and a seven strikeouts in his first start for Class A Greenville since departing his season debut on April 10 with a lat injury. The 2016 No. 12 overall Draft pick did not allow a hit until the fourth inning en route to facing the minimum. Groome, 18, had allowed two earned runs with 13 strikeouts in 11 innings across three rehab starts in the New York-Penn League ahead of his return to the Drive’s starting rotation.

• No. 47 overall prospect Triston McKenzie (Indians’ No. 2) posted his third double-digit strikeout game of the season as he fanned 11 batters in seven innings in a win for Class A Advanced Lynchburg. The 19-year-old righty permitted one unearned run on three hits in the outing, also generating eight ground-ball outs and throwing 73 of his 91 pitches for strikes. McKenzie’s ERA sits at 2.91 after the performance, and he’s now compiled 115 strikeouts against 32 walks in 89 2/3 innings (16 starts).

• No. 87 overall prospect Ronald Acuna (Braves’ No. 7) extended his hitting streak to five games as he connected on his 10th home run of the season and seventh as a member of Double-A Mississippi. The 19-year-old is hitting .500 (9-for-18) with a pair of homers during those five contests, which has pushed his Double-A batting line to .321/.370/.500 through 51 games.

Astros’ No. 11 prospect Garrett Stubbs went 3-for-4 with his fourth home run, a sixth-inning solo shot, and a pair of doubles in Double-A Corpus Christi’s victory against Arkansas. After a slow start to his season, the 24-year-old backstop has gone 8-for-18 with four runs scored and three RBIs in his past four games. On the mound for the Hooks, Framber Valdez (No. 29) struck out nine over six innings while allowing one earned run on two hits and three walks. The 23-year-old lefty has allowed three earned runs while posting 29 strikeouts in his last 22 2/3 innings (four starts).

• One level down, Jake Rogers and Stephen Wrenn, the Astros’ Nos. 21 and 27 prospect, each hit a home run and drove in four while going 4-for-5 in Class A Advanced Buies Creek’s rout of Myrtle Beach. Rogers’ homer was his 11th of the season and fifth in Carolina League, while Wrenn connected on his sixth of the year and third since joining Buies Creek.

Nationals’ No. 10 prospect Jesus Luzardo worked 4 2/3 scoreless frames, allowing six hits and striking out five in a no-decision for the Gulf Coast League Nationals. It marked the second pro start for the 19-year-old lefty, who underwent Tommy John surgery as a high school senior in March 2016 before accepting an above-slot bonus as a third-round pick to sign with Washington.

Rangers’ No. 15 prospect Yanio Perez connected on a pair of home runs for Class A Advanced Down East — his first home runs in 19 games since being moved up to the Carolina League. Perez’s second homer, a two-run shot in the fifth inning, proved to be the game winner, as the Wood Ducks downed Winston-Salem, 7-6. The 21-year-old outfielder was promoted after he batted .322/.392/.533 with nine home runs in 49 games with Class A Hickory.

“Honestly, a little weight has been lifted off my shoulders, but that’s not what I strive to do,” Perez told through team trainer and translator Alex Rodriguez. “It’s not my game. I like to hit line drives up the middle, but honestly, it felt good to do it.

“I was more comfortable after the previous at-bat, just looking for a fastball in,” Perez said. “[There was a] man on second, I was trying to drive him in and I noticed Salem was pitching me inside a lot. My whole approach was looking for fastball in and attacking it, and that’s exactly what I did.”

Reds’ No. 20 prospect Phil Ervin went 3-for-5 with two doubles and a career-best five RBIs, though it wasn’t enough to keep Triple-A Louisville from falling to Toledo, 10-8. He’s hit safely in six straight games for the Bats to raise his average from .224 to .242.

Rockies’ No. 14 prospect Sam Howard scattered three hits over eight scoreless frames in his best performance since advancing to the Triple-A level. The 24-year-old lefty also matched his career high with 10 strikeouts as he paced Albuquerque in a 2-0 shutout of Sacramento. He owns a 3.62 ERA in five starts for the Isotopes.

Yankees’ No. 18 prospect Nick Solak homered for a second straight game for Class A Advanced Tampa before finishing 1-for-3 with two walks. The 22-year-old second baseman has gone deep seven times in the Florida State League, where he’s hitting .305/.407/.466 through 76 games. Left-hander Ian Clarkin (No. 19) was equally impressive on the mound as he gave up four hits and struck out five over seven scoreless innings in a no-decision. The 22-year-old southpaw owns a 2.54 ERA in 60 1/3 innings this season, though he continues to miss few bats.

Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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