Will Craig named a Dick Howser Trophy semifinalist for second straight year.
— Wake Forest Baseball (@WakeBaseball) May 20, 2016
When the New York Mets are on the clock at the 2016 MLB Draft on June 9, 2016, power-hitting corner infielder Will Craig may still be on the board.
Will Craig is one big dude.
The Wake Forest product, who’s been mocked to land with the New York Mets in early June’s MLB Draft, looks every bit of his 6-foot-3, 235 pound frame.
It’s not just his physical acumen that has blown scouts away. Through 40 games, Craig has 13 home runs, 56 runs batted-in, and a slashline of .417/.551/.826.
Once selected out of high school by the Kansas City Royals in the 37th round of the 2013 MLB Draft, Craig has garnered a slew of awards and recognitions for his play.
Among the accolades:
ACC Player of the Year (2015)
Louisville Slugger First Team All-American
NCBWA First Team All-American
ABCA First Team All-American
D1Baseball First Team All-American
Perfect Game First Team All-American
Baseball America Second Team All-American
Perfect Game Midseason Player of the Year
Perfect Game Midseason All-American
D1Baseball Midseason All-American
Golden Spikes Award Watch List (Top 30)
John Olerud Award Watch List
Dick Howser Trophy Semifinalist
First Team All-ACC
CollegeBaseballInsider.com’s Southeast Player of the Week (March 2-8, 2015)
USA Baseball Collegiate National Team Alternate
Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American (2014)
2× ACC Player of the Week
The aforementioned arouses twain questions: first, what makes Craig a force to be reckoned with, and second, why would Craig fall all the way to the Amazin’s at nineteen?
— Diamond Kinetics (@DiamondKinetics) April 12, 2016
The initial question can be simply answered. As Michael Hattery writes in an article for Scout, Craig possesses the three most integral hitting attributes in plate discipline, contact frequency and contact quality.
His bases on balls total has often exceeded his strikeout aggregate, something rare for someone who shows significant in-game power. He also grades out above-average in BABIP, which is a proxy for contact quality.
While Craig grades out really well for the three buckets of offense, Hattery suggests that his ability to barrel the ball with authority to the opposite field is immensely valuable.
Hattery also believes that Craig’s load and discharge are both positives, and contribute eminently to his ability to make contact.
Despite such high praise from scouts like Hattery, Craig is still projected to be on the board in the mid-to-late first round.
Because Craig, a corner infielder, is inherently limited in offensive carrying tools. The defensive impact of a first-baseman is limited, and plus-speed typically begs a transition to another position in the diamond.
Additionally, as Hattery writes, one’s bat has to be substantially better than the league-average to excel in the major leagues (which isn’t to say that Craig’s can’t be).
Due to these caveats, Craig may be on the board when Sandy Alderson and the Mets are on the clock. While it is in no way an indictment on Craig’s body of work, will it be enough to deter the Mets?
We’ll find out soon enough.