Will Craig was one of the most intriguing names in the draft, and fortunately for the Pirates, he fell to their spot at number 22. Craig hit 16 home runs and 16 doubles as a junior at Wake Forest University with a .520 on-base percentage and 1.251 OPS. He was a top five finalist for the Dick Howser Trophy, which goes to the top ball player in the country.
What makes him such a unique talent is that even though he was a first-team All-American by both Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball as a third basemen, he was announced as a pitcher when the Pirates selected him. That was for good reason too, as he racked up nine saves in 19 relief appearances this year at Wake Forest thanks to his fastball, which touches in the 90-92 range, and a plus breaking ball. It’s not clear whether he will develop as a reliever, starter or position player yet, but he has a case for all three.
While the Pirates did take 35 college players out of their 41 draft picks, three of its first five selections were high school level pitchers. Nick Lodolo was picked with the Bucs’ CBA first round selection, and the lefty has a lot of upside. He went 65 innings of 1.97 ERA ball, striking out 83 en route to earning the distinction of being a Rawlings-Perfect Game first-team All-American.
2nd round pick Travis MacGregor was an honorable mention for the same Rawlings All-American spot after striking 82 in 54 innings with a sub-one ERA. Fourth round pick Brawden Ogle only went 35 innings, but had a 1.40 ERA and was on the Rawlings’ All-American third-team.
The late round college selections have several players worth keeping an eye on. To start for pitchers, 8th round pick Dylan Prohoroff had a 0.68 ERA and had 30 strikeouts in 20 relief appearances for Cal State University- Fullerton. Matt Anderson was taken in the 10th round after leading Morehead State University in strikeouts all four of his seasons. 20th rounder Adam Oller had a 1.23 ERA in 109 innings with Northwestern State University.
Hagen Owenby could be a steal in the 14th round. The catcher hit .374 with 17 home runs in 57 games as a sophomore with East Allegheny State University. Infielder Austin Bordrato hit .382 for St. Joseph Regional School, but he fell to the 24th round because he only had 10 extra-base hits. He did drive home 35 runs in 89 at-bats. “Mr. Irrelevant” 41st pick Bret Boswell may have only hit .241 as a sophomore with the University of Texas, but he is just three years removed from being a Rawlings All-American.
While it’s not clear which or how many players could develop into major league talent, there are the makings of a great core of new talent in the farm system.