Pirates select 3B Craig with 22nd overall pick

ACC '15 Player of the Year laughs off being mistakenly announced as pitcher

Pirates select 3B Craig with 22nd overall pick

PITTSBURGH -- Watching MLB Network's Draft telecast with family and friends Thursday night, Will Craig was ecstatic. And confused.

The Pirates chose Craig out of Wake Forest University with their first-round selection, 22nd overall. He played third base and slugged his way to ACC Player of the Year honors as a sophomore. But what were those three letters -- RHP -- doing after his name on the TV screen?

Turns out, this was more of a clerical error than another John Van Benschoten situation. The Pirates quickly texted Craig, who did in fact save nine games for Wake Forest, to inform him they picked him as a hitter.

"It was kind of funny when I first heard it and saw it on TV. It said 'right-handed pitcher' next to my name," Craig said during a conference call with reporters. "It's still kind of funny."

"We didn't think it was very funny," said general manager Neal Huntington. "Somewhere, somehow, there was a miscommunication. We scrambled in the room to get to Will, to get to his representative, to get to as many people as we could because we like him a lot as a hitter and wanted to make sure that got out there."

On the mound, Craig went 2-0 with a 3.54 ERA and 25 strikeouts in 28 innings over 19 appearances for the Demon Deacons this spring. But make no mistake: Craig is a hitter.

41st overall: Nick Lodolo
68th overall: Travis MacGregor

The 21-year-old right-handed batter hit .379/.520/.731 with 16 home runs, 66 RBIs and 47 walks to 35 strikeouts for Wake Forest this spring. He is one of five finalists for the 2016 Dick Howser Trophy, awarded to the top player in collegiate baseball, and a semifinalist for the 2016 Golden Spikes Award.

Craig on getting drafted

"He does have a good eye, hand-eye coordination and he does impact the baseball," Pirates scouting director Joe DelliCarri said. "Coming in, we think he has a chance to be a good hitter in the Major Leagues."

Listed at 6-foot-3 and 235 pounds, Craig admitted he's "not going to be Manny Machado over there with the glove." But he feels his strong arm and good instincts will allow him to stick at third.

Craig played and pitched for Science Hill High School in Johnson City, Tenn., where he met and played alongside Tigers pitcher Daniel Norris.

"He was my ride my freshman year because I was unable to drive, being 15. He was my ride to practice and games every day," Craig said. "He was my mentor in high school."

Norris, drafted in the second round in 2011, may have also led clubs to view Craig as a pitcher. Craig was taken by the Royals in the 37th round of the 2013 Draft but opted to instead attend Wake Forest, where he became their highest Draft pick since 2006.

2016 Draft: Will Craig, 3B

Before the 2013 Draft, Craig got to know Pirates scout Jerry Jordan, who covers Tennessee and North Carolina.

"We had a pretty good connection. I knew there was a pretty good chance I could go today," Craig said. "I was hoping the draft would get going closer to pick 22 so I could hear my name. That's when I got the call about it, and I was obviously pretty ecstatic. Couldn't be happier about it."

The assigned bonus value for the 22nd overall pick is $2,253,700. The Pirates used their other Day 1 selections on projectable high school arms: left-hander Nick Lodolo and right-hander Travis MacGregor.

The Draft continues on Friday with Rounds 3-10. The MLB.com preview show begins at 12:30 p.m. ET, with exclusive coverage of Rounds 3-10 beginning at 1 p.m. ET.

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.