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Phillies prospect J.P. Crawford might have salvaged his season

Crawford, since returning June 20 from the disabled list, is starting to look like the prospect who scorched through the lower levels of the minors.

J.P. Crawford throws to first base during a spring training game in March.
J.P. Crawford throws to first base during a spring training game in March.Read moreYONG KIM / Staff Photographer

J.P. Crawford struggled so mightily during the first three months this season that some began to question whether the shortstop was still a premier prospect. Crawford was scuffling at triple A and entered last week's all-star break batting just .211 with a .328 on-base percentage.

It seems that something has changed. Crawford, since returning June 20 from a stint on the disabled list caused by a groin injury, is batting .257 with a .359 on-base percentage and a .913 OPS. Of his 16 hits in July, 10 have been for extra bases. He is starting to look like the prospect who soared through the lower levels of the minors.

"I think we're starting to see what he is, like we all know," said Joe Jordan, the Phillies' director of player development. "I'm happy for him. He's turned his year around. He fought some things health-wise during the first half of the summer, and that may have been a part of it. But I think he's back to doing what J.P. Crawford does."

Crawford was dropped earlier this month on almost every midseason prospect list. The biggest slight came from Baseball America, which lowered Crawford 80 spots to No. 92. Baseball America  editor John Manuel discussed Crawford last week when he was a guest on  Comcast Sportsnet's At the Yard podcast with Jim Salisbury. Crawford, Baseball America believed, was no longer seen as an impact player. Crawford, perhaps an avid listener of At The Yard, tweeted later that day, "All it is is motivation."

"It's been a struggle and he's a high-profile guy that people pay a lot of attention to," Jordan said. "There's a lot of stuff that has been written about him, and obviously, it hasn't been all glowing. But he hung in there and stabilized it a little bit."

Appel should return soon

Mark Appel is in Clearwater, Fla., rehabbing an injury for the second straight year. The righthanded pitcher was placed on the disabled list last week with a shoulder strain. He had an MRI last week, and the Phillies do not expect him to require surgery. Appel had season-ending elbow surgery last June.

"We'll have him back and pitching pretty soon," Jordan said.

Appel has a 5.27 ERA this season in 17 starts at triple A. The former No. 1 overall pick turned 26  this month. He has yet to reach the big leagues, and his spot on the 40-man roster could be in question this winter. Jordan said Appel should return to triple A "sooner rather than later."

Extra bases

Elniery Garcia is throwing in Clearwater after being activated off the restricted list following an 80-game suspension for testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug. The lefthander is expected to join a minor-league team before the end of the season. … The Phillies will monitor the innings of triple-A righthander Tom Eshelman for the rest of the season.

Who's hot

Cornelius Randolph, Clearwater: The 2015 first-round pick entered Thursday batting .357 with a 1.054 OPS and 15 walks in 16 games this month.

Nick Fanti, Lakewood: Fanti on Monday became the first Lakewood pitcher to throw a nine-inning no-hitter in a winning effort. He recorded all but one out of a no-hitter earlier this year. Not bad for a 31st-round pick