The Pirates have picked Will Craig from Wake Forest with their first pick in the draft. Both MLB.com and Baseball America have Craig listed as a third baseman. At the draft, Craig was announced as a pitcher, but that was apparently a mistake.
This pick comes as a bit of a surprise. MLB.com had Craig listed as the 31st-best prospect in the draft, with a scouting report comparing him to Billy Butler. Baseball America, meanwhile, lists him as the draft's No. 45 prospect.
Craig batted a ridiculous .392/.537/.766 last year for Wake Forest, so the interest in him as a hitter is understandable, although the Butler comparison is a double-edged sword, and BA's scouting report notes that, as a third baseman, Craig has good arm strength but might have to move off the position, particularly since he's already pretty bulky.
That profile might have Pirates fans thinking of Pedro Alvarez. Particularly after the Bucs drafted a bunch of contact-oriented infielders last year and after Alvarez played his way out of the organization, it's a little surprising that he'd pique the Pirates' interest. Perhaps it's not crazy, though -- Kyle Schwarber, for example, worked out really well for the Cubs before his injury, and Craig could become the Pirates' first baseman in short order if he hits in the minors. Also, Craig demonstrated better plate discipline than Alvarez did at the college level, walking more than he struck out in both the last two seasons. That's big, given what a sticking point Alvarez's strike-zone troubles proved to be in the majors.
Last season, in addition to hitting, Craig also pitched in relief for the Demon Deacons, posting a 2.42 ERA with 23 strikeouts and 12 walks in 26 innings. If he doesn't work out as an infielder, perhaps they could convert him to the mound at some point.
Obviously, this is a surprising pick. It will be interesting to hear from Neal Huntington on the Pirates' rationale for selecting Craig. The Bucs' last couple of top picks (Cole Tucker and Kevin Newman) were at least somewhat surprising as well, of course, but both seemed to reflect a relatively coherent organizational shift towards athleticism, contact, defensive value and makeup. The Craig pick is, so far, a bit more opaque. But there's nothing wrong with trying to add a big bat to the organization.