Pittsburgh Pirates: A Look at the 2016 MLB Draft, Will Craig

Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports /

With a majority of the 2017 draft class signed, it seemed like a good time to start reviewing the 2016 draft class this far.  This will be a series of articles on how each prospect has done in the minors thus far.

This year the Pittsburgh Pirates really focused on taking high upside prep players early in the draft.  They did so by drafting four high school players with their first four picks, all inside the top 72 picks of the draft.  Last year, the Pittsburgh Pirates were more balanced with their drafting taking two college players and two prep players with their first four picks.  This year the Bucs took a prep pitcher in Shane Baz with their first round pick.  Last year, the Bucs decided to invest in a college bat with their first round pick.

Will Craig

Will Craig was the Pittsburgh Pirates 2016 first round draft pick.  The Bucs invested the 22nd overall draft pick in the third baseman from Wake Forest.  Since then, Craig has transitioned from third base to first base.  The main reason the Bucs took Craig was not for his defense, but rather for his projectable bat.  So far, his offense has been impressive.


Now Craig looked somewhat like a busted pick through his first few weeks with the Short-Season Advanced West Virginia Black Bears.  Through his first 15 games or so in 2016, he was hitting under .200 with no power what so ever.  However, by the end of the season, he turned it all around.  Craig played in 63 games during his first taste of professional baseball in 2016.  Through those games, he ended up with a slash line of .280/.412/.362.  He also had 12 doubles, two home runs, and actually walked more than he struck out by a ratio of 41 to 37.


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Entering the 2017 season, the Pittsburgh Pirates bumped the first round pick over Low-A and right to High-A Bradenton.  So far, Craig has proven that he belongs in High-A.  Craig has participated in 66 games thus far for the Marauders.  hitting .285/.389/.414.  The first baseman is continuing to show an above average ability to get on base.  This was the main reason the Bucs drafted Craig because he had always shown that ability.

So far this year he is also driving the ball more.  Already he has 15 doubles, five home runs, and one triple, totaling up 21 extra base hits.  Last year in just three fewer games, Craig posted 14 extra base hits.  This could be because Craig has finally fully adjusted to using a wooden bat, especially given he likely trained in the offseason using one, unlike previous years.

One negative about Craig’s season so far is that he is striking out more than he did in 2016.  In 2016 he only struck out 37 times in 63 games.  So far in 2017, the former first-round pick struck out 62 times in his 66 games.  He also has seen his walks decrease from 41 times to 31 times.  Now, this was to be expected, as it is very hard to continue and walk more than strikeout as a prospect climbs the minor league ladder.

Next: Who has been the best offensive player lately?

Going Forward

Still this year, he is only swinging and missing 8.5 percent of the time, which is 14th lowest in the Florida State League, and 28th lowest in High A.  It all can be attributed to the fact that earlier in the season he was adjusting to a higher level of competition.  In fact, at one point in April, he struck out 12 times in just seven games. With that, if he continues to swing and miss at a low rate, and continues to get on base at a high clip, Craig should be finding his way to Double-A sooner than later.