Pittsburgh Pirates Draft Wake Forest’s Will Craig #22 Overall
The Pittsburgh Pirates have drafted Wake Forest junior third baseman Will Craig. Craig just completed his senior season for the Demon Deacons in which he led the squad in every offensive category. He was selected as one of five finalists for the Dick Howser Trophy, given to the top college baseball player in the country. Many had projected Craig to be off the board by pick #22, so the Pirates seem like they got good value for their choice.
The 21 year old Craig is considered one of, if not the best college hitter available in this draft, but also does not project as someone who would make an a quick impact on the Major Leagues.
Craig is 6’3″, 235 pounds and is from Johnson City, Tennessee. He was drafted out of Science Hill High School by the Kansas City Royals as a senior in the 37th round before opting to attend Wake Forest. He had an immediate impact as a freshman at Wake Forest when he hit .280 with eight home runs on his way to being named to the Freshman All-America Team as the team’s starting third baseman.
It was during his sophomore season though that he took a leap forward and established himself as a potential high draft pick. As a sophomore, Craig raised his average .100 points while belting 13 home runs. He also doubled his walk total from 20 to 41 and cut down his strikeouts by nine to 24. After the season, he was named the ACC Player of the Year and was named an All-American by five different sources.
While Craig has the physical tools, mental capacity and work ethic to realize the most of his potential, the one red flag that has stuck with him over the past year was his significant drop off in production when he played in the Cape Cod League last summer. During that stretch, Craig batted just .242 with one home run in 40 games while using a wooden bat. Wake Forest is known as a friendly environment for hitters, so there is some concern his numbers could be a product of his environment.
Craig needs some fine tuning defensively and may experience an adjustment period as his power develops with a wood bat, so he isn’t expected to be talked about as a Major Leaguer until 2019 at a minimum. Craig also pitched at times for Wake Forest and sat consistently above 90 MPH on the mound.