Pittsburgh Pirates: Will Craig how he fits the organization

Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

The Pittsburgh Pirates have selected Wake Forrest third baseman Will Craig in the first round of the Major League Baseball Draft at number 22.

Will Craig is a somewhat interesting pick at number with players such as Nolan Jones, Eric Lauer, Dakota Hudson, and others were left on the board. Craig is a player that probably doesn’t reach the Pirates at pick number 41, as he is a solid college stick who has a canon for an arm over at the hot corner.

Craig stands at 6’3″ and 235 pounds, which is the same height and fifteen pounds lighter than Pedro Alvarez is.  But both players height and weight are not the only similarities. Both Craig and Alvarez have a hose for an arm over at third, as Craig has hit 94 off the mound for the Demon Deacons, and they both have serious power.

Craig had a slash line of .350/.465/.632 with a .281 ISO, 37 home runs, and 42 doubles in 152 games at Wake. The biggest differences in Pedro and Craig, outside of Alvarez being a left-handed hitter and Craig being a right-handed hitter, is the amount of patience. Alvarez at Vandy walked 125 times and whiffed 157 times, a ratio of 0.796. Craig on the other hand has walked 108 times compared to his 90 strikeouts, a ration of 1.2. Craig knows the strike zone.

With his patience at the dish and power in his bat, it’s no shock the Pirates took the big right-handed stick at 22 considering he likely won’t last to 41. Where he will play comes into question though. MLB Pipeline makes note that there is concern over his athleticism and that most scouts think he will make the move over to first base. His arm strength will definitely play at third, but that athletic ability not being his strong suit is the reason for concern.

The Pirates took Ke’Bryan Hayes last year in the first round, a high school bat that is developing nicely as he is hitting .286/.340/.429 in West Virginia, a where he is 2.3 years below the average age of the league. Josh Bell, a 2011 draft pick, is hitting .297/.386/.474 so far in Triple A Indianapolis, as he is knocking on the door step. Bell is the teams debated top hitting prospect in the organization competing with Austin Meadows – and he will likely make his debut this season,maybe in September with the way David Freese and John Jaso have played, or he will make his debut next season. Hayes is still years away and will likely debut in 2019 or 2020.

More from Rum Bunter

So where does this leave Craig? His bat will likely be the fourth best in the system, behind Meadows, Bell, and Hayes. His defense is not as good as the other prospects, but him being a polished hitter should allow him to be a top 10 prospect in the system after the Pirates sign him. Craig will also be much needed prospect depth behind Bell and Hayes, as their next best corner infield prospects consist of Jordan Luplow and Kevin Kramer.

Overall the pick of Craig was a smart and more safe pick than taking a player such as Nolan Jones, a high school bat, at pick number 22. He instantly becomes the number three corner infield prospect and a top ten prospect. His ability to get on base and not strike out on the college level should help him translate to the professional levels more so than another college bat. His defensive position is a question mark, but first base seems to be the more realistic spot. He will likely be ready in 2018 or 2019, putting him at the age of 23 or 24.

Related Story: First Round Pick

He’ll be on the same estimation of arrival as Hayes, just on the other side of the diamond. If the Pirates decide to trade Bell do to a need, Bell flops, or if the National League adds the designated hitter in the new CBA – a place where Bell is probably best suited with his tremendous stick – opens a door for Craig. The other potential option for Craig at third base, does not really seem like an opening. Jung Ho Kang’s deal with the Pirates doesn’t end until 2018, but he has an option for 2019, and baseball reference lists him arbitration eligible until after 2018 and a free agent after 2020. Craig gives the Pirates a nice college bat in this draft that has patience and should develop into one of their better prospects in the next few years.

*Numbers from baseball cube