Pittsburgh Pirates MLB Draft: #22 Overall Pick

Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports /

Tonight is the MLB draft the Pittsburgh Pirates are picking at #22 and #41 in the first round, and they are picking at #68 overall with their second round pick.

With the #22 overall pick, the Pittsburgh Pirates and Neal Huntington selected Will Craig. The right-handed Craig is a third baseman/pitcher from Wake Forest.  Mayo suggested that the Pirates wanted a college bat, but he was announced as a pitcher.  He is being drafted as a hitter however, and the Pirates get an advanced power, corner bat.

This is a solid pick, he can play third base, but might be moving for first baseman.  He is an offensive player, he hit .379 with 16 home runs this year. What makes Craig a threat is his size.  He is 6’3” and 235 pounds. He may project better as a first baseman than a third baseman due to his size.  Regardless the Pirates are thin in the minors at third base and first base.  His bat will play at first base also. He makes consistent, hard contact and produces back-spin on the ball.

Craig played in the ACC for three years with Wake Forest.  He has produced a career batting average of .350, with a slash line of .465/.632/1.097 (Ob-base/slug/OPS).  Craig seems to be a saber-metric player like player.  Yes, he is big and has already filled into his frame, but he has shown the ability to get on base at college and make consistent hard contact.  The Pirates have taken this approach over the last few years and Craig will fit the bill in that department.   The other nice thing to see is that his home runs have increased each year.

As a freshmen he hit 8 homers, then as a sophomore he hit 13 and this past season he hit 16.  Anytime you can hit more than 15 in a college season that suggests that the player has good power. Also in his career he has walked 109 times while only striking out 90 times. His biggest negative is his speed, he is a below average runner, and will continue to decrease as he gets older.

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Craig will most likely be a quick sign.  He was ranked as the #31 player in the drat by MLB Pipeline.  The Pirates have taken this approach the last few years.  They will take a solid player with their first pick, but reach on him somewhat.  Then they will look to take rawer talent that may need a bigger bonus later in the draft.  Craig will not demand a big bonus because he went about ten picks earlier than he expected, so he will already be getting more money than he expected.  I originally had the Pirates taking Florida outfielder Buddy Reed (#30 on mlb pipleline) for this exact same reason.

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The Pittsburgh Pirates are getting a quality player in Craig, and he will help fill much needed help at third base or first base in the minor league system.  There also is the potential of the NL adopting the DH within the next few years, he could also fit that role.  MLB Pipeline’s player comp for him is Billy Butler, however I believe he will have more power than Butler.