The Pittsburgh Pirates selected Wake Forest’s Will Craig in the first round of the MLB Draft.
For the fourth straight year the Pirates took a position player with their first round pick in the MLB Draft. Picking at 22, the Bucs selected third baseman Will Craig from Wake Forest University. Craig was rated as the 31st (MLB.com) and 45th (Baseball America) best prospect in this year’s draft.
Though he was announced at the draft as a pitcher, the Demon Deacon has all the makings of being a big time power hitter at the major league level. In his three seasons at Wake Forest, Craig slugged 37 home runs and drove in 160 runs. His bulky 6’3 235 frame has been compared to former Pirate Pedro Alvarez, the A’s Billy Butler and the Cubs Kyle Schwarber.
Unlike Alvarez, Craig is a more polished hitter coming out of college. In 2016, he put up an impressive stat line batting .379 with a .520 on-base percentage and .731 slugging percentage. While Alvarez struggled in college (and continues to struggle) with his plate discipline, Craig demonstrated tremendous discipline over this career. This is just one of the many reasons why he was nominated for the Dick Howser, which is given to the top Division I baseball player in America.
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Despite having good arm strength (appeared in 41 games including 8 starts as pitcher at Wake), Craig may have to switch to another position as his Pirates career progresses. Hopefully this position change occurs while Craig is still in the minors rather than when he is in the major leagues as what happened with Alvarez. The logical move would be to move the 2015 ACC Player of the Year to first base.
Though many thought the Pirates would select a pitcher in the first round, the Craig selection brings great upside with his skills as a hitter. Whether he stays on the hot corner or moves to first, the slugger will eventually bring add another big bat to the major league lineup.
Given time to develop, Craig can be a real force for the Pirates.