One of the Pittsburgh Pirates’ top corner infield prospects has experienced a power surge thus far in 2018
With 22nd overall pick in the 2016 Major League Baseball June Amateur Draft the Pittsburgh Pirates selected first baseman/third baseman Will Craig. This selection came after Craig was a collegiate standout for the Wake Forest Demon Deacons.
Craig was expected to infuse power into the Pirate minor league system, however, that power was slow to develop in 2016 and 2017. This season things have been different, thus far at least, for Craig as his power is beginning to develop.
Despite a lack of power, Will Craig was still a good hitter in 2016 and 2017. He owned a .412 on-base percentage, .382 wOBA, and a wRC+ of 142 for the West Virginia Power in 2016. Craig then posted a .373 on-base percentage, .352 wOBA, and a 123 wRC+ with High-A Bradenton in 2017.
However, the power was not there for Craig. He posted just an .083 ISO while slugging .362 with West Virginia. With Bradenton these numbers improved to .100 and .371, however, both of those numbers remain well below average.
The 2018 season has been Craig’s first taste of Double-A pitching. It has also been the season in which he has had the most power of his career.
As you can see above, Craig owns a new career high in both ISO and slugging percentage this season. Not only are they new career highs, they are both above average. Also, Craig has already hit five home runs this season. He entered the 2018 campaign with seven home runs in his professional career. Craig has also watched his extra-base hit rate jump to 12% after being a measly 7% in his first two professional seasons.
What has made Craig’s power surge this season impressive is that he is doing it at the Double-A level. Many people will say the biggest jump in the minor leagues is from High-A to Double-A.
Additionally, People’s Natural Gas Field in Altoona is far from a hitter’s park. In fact, it is a strong pitcher’s park. So Craig finding his power stroke with Altoona is an encouraging sign that he has turned a corner.
Will the power surge of Will Craig continue? That remains to be seen. Hopefully, Craig has turned a corner with his power and he is now developing into the power hitter the Pirates envisioned what they drafted him in 2016.