J.P. Crawford and Mike Marjama make MLB debuts

Lakewood High alum J.P. Crawford was the Press-Telegram Dream Team Co-Player of the Year in 2013.
(Photo By Stephen Carr/SCNG)
Lakewood High alum J.P. Crawford was the Press-Telegram Dream Team Co-Player of the Year in 2013. (Photo By Stephen Carr/SCNG)

Two local products from historic programs made their Major League Baseball debuts in the last three days. Former Long Beach State standout Mike Marjama was called up by the Seattle Mariners this weekend, and Lakewood High alum J.P. Crawford played his first MLB game on Tuesday.

Crawford, 22, started at third base for the Philadelphia Phillies and picked up his first hit in a 9-1 win at the New York Mets. After being selected straight out of high school by the Phillies with the 16th overall pick of the 2013 draft, Crawford was a top-10 prospect the past two years. Most pundits expected Crawford to have a chance to debut this month when rosters expanded.

The Crawford family received the phone call from J.P on Monday evening with the good news, and had less than 24 hours to fly to New York for Tuesday’s game.

“We paid a lot more than we should have (for plane tickets) but it’s all worth it,” J.P.’s mother, Beth Crawford, said. “It was just excitement at first but after it wound down, I got teary eyed.”

Crawford has hit .270 with 40 home runs, 217 RBIs and 67 stolen bases in 533 minor league games. He helped Triple-A Lehigh Valley win its season finale Monday to qualify for the playoffs before he learned he was getting called up.

“He was a little out of breath when he called,” Beth said. “I don’t know if (J.P.) was celebrating getting into the playoffs or the news of getting called up. He was out of breath and really excited.”

The Crawfords and some family friends got onto the field in New York for a picture with J.P. before Tuesday’s game.

“He seemed calm,” Beth said. “I asked him how he was doing and he said he feels like a rock star.”

Crawford is the 76th Moore League/St. Anthony product to play in the MLB, and the 16th from Lakewood. Fellow Lancer alum Travis d’Arnaud played catcher for the Mets on Tuesday and had two hits and an RBI. The last Lakewood product to make his MLB debut was Matt Duffy, and he also played d’Arnaud and the Mets in his debut.

“I’ve had guys like Chris Gomez, Damion Easley, Travis d’Arnaud, Mike Carp and (Crawford) fits right in there with all those guys,” said Spud O’Neil, Lakewood’s coach for 33 years.

Crawford reached on an error and scored in the first inning before he led off the fifth with a single. In the eighth inning, d’Arnaud doubled to right field with one out. However, Crawford helped turn a double play to end the inning.

The Crawford family will return home Thursday so J.P.’s youngest sister, Julia, can get back for her Lakewood girls volleyball game.

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Marjama, who played at LBSU in 2011, is the 48th former 49ers player to reach the majors. He is also the 15th on an MLB roster this season. This is the eighth consecutive year that LBSU has the more alumni in the big leagues than any other college or university.

After transferring from Sacramento City College, Marjama started all 56 games at LBSU in 2011 at third base and catcher. The Roseville native hit .290 with 13 extra-base hits, 27 RBIs and eight stolen bases.

The Chicago White Sox selected Marjama in the 23rd round of the 2011 draft. He joined the Tampa Bay Rays organization in 2015, and hit .275 with 37 home runs and 240 RBIs in 480 career minor league games. Marjama was a Triple-A All-Star with the Durham Bulls before being traded to the Mariners on Aug. 6.

Marjama, 28, made his MLB debut as a defensive replacement Sunday when the Mariners beat the visiting Oakland Athletics. He didn’t have an at-bat.

Eight Dirtbags were selected during the 2017 MLB Draft in June. Thirty-one former players have signed MLB contracts during coach Troy Buckley’s seven seasons. Marjama is the second to make his debut this year. Pitcher Shane Carle made his MLB debut for the Colorado Rockies in April.

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About the Author

JJ Fiddler

JJ Fiddler is a sportswriter and videographer who has been covering the Long Beach-area sports world for multiple newspapers since 2004. After attending Long Beach State and creating the first full sports page at the Union Weekly Newspaper, he adopted Long Beach as his home town and is a member of the Long Beach Century Club, where he is a two-time winner of the Keith Cordes Award for best promotion of the city through sports. Reach the author at jfiddler@scng.com or follow JJ on Twitter: @PTGazetteSports.