Pirates fans and coaches alike wanted to see what Will Craig could do at Sunday's MLB All-Star Futures Game.
They left disappointed.
In the top of the second, Craig took the plate for his first at-bat of the day. He was hit by a 95-mph heater up and in. Coincidentally enough, Craig was wearing a live mic during the at-bat, and it caught his discussion at first base.
"Dude, 95 right at me!" Craig exclaimed, clearly surprised to get clipped in an All-Star showcase.
So imagine how surprised he was when it happened again in his second at-bat in the fourth.
After battling through multiple foul tips, Craig caught another fastball high and inside, but don't worry: This one was only coming in at 94.
Commentators at the event commended Craig's ability to fight and stay alive throughout the at-bat, and it ultimately ended with him on base, albeit not in the way Craig wanted. While he was somewhat chuckling after the first hit-by-pitch, Craig was visibly frustrated after the second one and replaced by pinch-runner Nolan Gorman.
So that's that. Anybody wanting to see some of Craig's power will have to queue up the Indianapolis Indians footage. There was not much for him in this one.
This season, the 24–year-old is slashing .250/.327/.464, while ringing up 17 home runs and 50 RBIs for Class-AAA Indianapolis.
If you notice a trend in those numbers — that there's a ton of power but not a ton of consistency — you are not alone.
"He continues to work hard and his power is trending up," Pirates GM Neal Huntington was saying of Craig today at PNC Park. "The next step is becoming the good hitter that we believe he was coming out of the draft and showed in his first two years (of pro ball). We’d like to see him become the type of hitter who will hit a home run in one at-bat then shorten up and hit a double in the next at-bat if that’s what the situation calls for, as opposed to someone who just tries to hit for power. That’s the next step in his evolution.”
While Craig is trending well, he's also a first baseman, which puts him behind Josh Bell in the Pirates' system. Not the best place to be. While he has also played third, he has been much more comfortable at first and would likely play there at the major-league level.