Pittsburgh Pirates: Is it time to Promote Will Craig?

(Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
(Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images) /

The minor league season is quickly coming to an end.  Just after midway through the season, the Pittsburgh Pirates made a lot of minor league promotions.  However, Will Craig has not been promoted yet.

Around the middle of the season we often see teams make a lot of roster moves in their minor league system, especially top prospects. The Pittsburgh Pirates took the liberty of promoting Kevin Newman and Jordan Luplow to Triple-A, and Cole Tucker and Mitch Keller moved to Double-A.  However, 2016 first round pick Will Craig did not receive a promotion to Double-A.

Will Craig was a first round pick out of Wake Forest in 2016.  He was touted as an advanced hitter who would likely have to move from third base to first base.  Scouts felt on the offensive side of things he would be ahead of most players in the minors, and he could move quickly through the system.  After a sluggish start to his professional career in Short-Season A, he bounced back and hit .280/.412/.362 in 2016.  This was after he hit under .200 through the first month of his professional career.

The Pittsburgh Pirates decided to have Craig skip Low-A and go straight to High-A Bradenton for the 2017 season.  The Bucs typically move players who have success at High-A quickly at the High-A level.  For instance, Kevin Newman only player in 41 games at High-A before being transferred to Double-A in 2016.

Craig has appeared in 110 games for Bradenton this season.  In those games, he has posted a slash line of .276/.383/.389.  He has put up 26 doubles, 6 home runs, and 112 hits.  Meanwhile, he has only struck out at a 19.5% percent rate, and has also walked at a really good 12 percent rate.  All in all, Craig has put up a really solid season.  He has hit around .280 most of the season, he has not really gone through any extended slumps.  This is obviously a good sign, consistency shows a lot about a players efficiency as a hitter.

Normally, the Pittsburgh Pirates like to see prospects receive 500 at-bats at each minor league level.  Newman, of course, was an outlier putting up ridiculous numbers in 164 at-bats last year. Cole Tucker split time between High-A at the end of the last season and this season.  He posted 546 at-bats over his career in High-A.  Craig so far has recorded 406 at-bats for the Marauders.

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So, even though Craig is putting up a really solid season at High-A, he still needs about 100 more at-bats to stay on the Pittsburgh Pirates normal prospect promotion track. If Craig was absolutely crushing the ball at High-A he likely would have received a promotion by now.  Being he is just putting up strong, but not overly impressive numbers, likely means Craig will see a promotion in a few weeks.