Name: Will Craig
Born: Johnson City, Tennessee
Age: 21 (11/16/94)
Height/Weight: 6'3"/235 lbs
School: Wake Forest University (Winston-Salem, North Carolina)
Born in Johnson City, Tennessee, Will Craig has an extensive history playing with some of the top players in the 2016 Amateur Draft. Craig is one of many top prospects, along with Nick Senzel, Dakota Hudson, Jordan Sheffield and Bryan Reynolds, to have grown up in Tennessee. "It's been a great class for Tennessee—the graduating class of 2013," Craig said. "Our class was probably one of the strongest classes in Tennessee history."
Craig attended Science Hill High School in Tennessee and was a teammate and buddy of current Detroit Tigers left-hander Daniel Norris, known for the 1978 Volkswagen camper he owns. As he does now, Craig was a two-way player, playing third base and pitching out of the bullpen. It was his frequent appearances out of the pen after Norris pitched that got scouts talking about him. The Kansas City Royals were intrigued and drafted Craig in the 37th round of the 2013 draft as a pitcher. Craig, who saw himself more as a hitter than a pitcher, declined to sign with the team and instead went on to attend Wake Forest University.
Will Craig became one of the standout freshman players of the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2014. He went on to become the team's everyday third baseman, hitting .280/.357/.439, while pitching part-time and posting a 4.05 ERA in 13.1 innings. Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American Award that he won that year would be the first of many, and it would become clear that his future was with a bat, and not with a ball.
Craig built on his strong freshman season with a spectacular sophomore season. Hitting .382/.496/.702, the right-handed hitter posted one of the best offensive seasons in Wake Forest University history. He led his team in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, doubles, home runs, walks, RBI, runs scored, and total bases, and was just one of five Deacons to start all 53 games of the season. He won a plethora of awards and was named to various honorary All-American teams. That summer, he played for the Chatham Anglers of the Cape Cod League. The slugger had his first real bout of adversity there, hitting a less-than-impressive .242/.366/.318. He recovered when he returned to Wake University, slugging an impressive .407/.551/.826 in 40 games.
Craig has been tied to the Mets by multiple credible outlets.
|2014||NCAA Div I (ACC)||19||54||.280||.357||.439||8||20||33||1||1|
|2015||NCAA Div I (ACC)||20||53||.382||.496||.702||13||41||24||2||3|
|2016||NCAA Div I (ACC)||21||40||.407||.551||.826||13||34||32||0||1|
What The Scouts Think
At 6-foot-3, 235 pounds, Craig is a large man and possesses, as many coaches and baseball insiders call it, "country power." His quick bat and ability to backspin balls gives him double-digit home run potential. Despite the demonstrated power, some scouts have concerns that some of his power is a product of his environment and is unsustainable. David F. Couch Ballpark is a hitter's park, and Craig had a noticeable dip in power while playing at the Cape Cod League as opposed to with the metal bat used in NCAA games. He's helped in this regard by the fact that he is more than just hit-or-miss slugger with few other skills. The Tennessee native has an advanced approach at the plate, rarely offering at pitches he knows he is unable to hit and rarely swinging-and-missing. As a freshman, he walked 20 times to 33 strikeouts, and as a sophomore, he walked 41 times to 24 strikeouts.
Craig's defense is something of a mixed bag. Given that he has pitched in a competitive collegiate environment, we know he has a strong enough arm to play third base. He has been clocked as high as 94 MPH while on the mound for Wake Forest. Many scouts believe that Craig already is limited in his mobility and that he will only get slower and less agile as he ages. As such, most think that he will eventually have to move across the diamond to first base, and many even have to do so before he reaches the major leagues. To his credit, Craig has put more effort into his conditioning, hitting the weight room more and making better decisions in regards to food. As a result, teammates and coaches have noted an improvement in his fitness and functional strength, despite his size.
On that note, Craig has demonstrated an exceptional work ethic. After playing in a prestigious amateur summer baseball program in East Cobb, Georgia, the young slugger made frequent return trips almost every weekend to take hours of batting practice. Fast forward to today, and the youngster is often one of the last people to leave David F. Couch Ballpark, getting in as much extra work he can and interacting with fans despite not needing to.