Will Craig Speaks About Playing in Futures Game

“This is about as close as I can be to the majors without actually making it."

Noah Hiles
July 07, 2019 - 5:53 pm

© Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

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CLEVELAND (93.7 The Fan) – Prior to taking the field to represent both the Pittsburgh Pirates and the National League in the 2019 Sirius XM All Star Futures Game, prospect Will Craig took time to speak with the media and reflect on his most recent accomplishment.

“It’s been pretty surreal,” said Craig who is playing in his first ever Futures Game. “It’s about as close as you’ll get to the big leagues as far as overall talent. Every single player here is a top prospect and they’re all young guys so you know a lot is going to happen (with this group) in the next couple of years.”

Craig, who currently plays first base for the Pirates Triple-A affiliate, Indianapolis, was one of many young, talented players that the club was excited about entering the start of the 2019 season.

While the Bucs have received notable contributions from a handful of rookies such as Bryan Reynolds, Kevin Newman and Cole Tucker, Craig has yet to find his way to the big leagues. However, Craig says that making it to the futures game is a nice reminder that the major leagues are not too far away.

“This is about as close as I can be to the majors without actually making it,” Craig said with a smile on his face. “Being in Double-A all of last year, you don’t really think much about the big leagues, you are just thinking about getting to Triple-A. It’s definitely one of those things where I know I am so close and anything can happen. You can get that call at any point.”

Unlike Newman, Reynolds and Tucker, who were called up to the Pirates big league team due to a lack of depth, Craig will not have the same luxury with Josh Bell starting at first base.

Regardless of how well Craig plays in Indy, it would be hard to imagine a scenario where the club would choose to bring him up to the majors knowing that Bell would still be getting a significant amount of the playing time. However, for Craig, the focus remains on the only person he can control: himself.

“I can’t get caught up in how JB (Josh Bell) is doing,” said Craig. “To me, he is a top three player in the league but I have to understand that whatever he does will not determine what I can do. Every day I just focus on getting my work in defensively and offensively so when the time does come I will be ready to step in and fill the void.”

Craig is best known for what he can do at the plate. The 24 year-old former first round pick provides an element of power that few others in the Pirates system show. In just 81 games this year, Craig has 17 homeruns, 50 RBI and is slugging .464. However, if Craig does make it to the major leagues this year, it will be due to the improvements that he has made on defense.

Knowing that Bell will be holding down Craig’s primary spot, Craig has began to receive playing time at other positions in hopes that his versatility with the glove will allow manager Clint Hurdle to find a way to get Craig’s bat into the big league lineup.

Craig played 46 games at third base in 2016 with the West Virginia Black Bears (Short Season A). Recently he has ventured out of the infield, making a start in right field this season at Indy. Craig says that he understands diversity in the field makes him more valuable to the Pirates in both the short and long term.