Prospect Report: Allen Craig

There are some prospects who possesses a bat so good that an organization will try them anywhere across the diamond in order to find a spot.  The St. Louis Cardinals have such a prospect in Allen Craig, who has played all over the infield as well as being tested in the outfield.

He’s seen minimal time at SS and 2B and there is no chance that a hole opens up at 1B courtesy of Albert Pujols.  He has spent the majority of his time at 3B, though his long-term potential there is minimal despite the team’s potential need.  As Baseball America recently said:

“His lack of range and arm strength, plus a quirky throwing motion, work against him at the hot corner.”

Hence the decision to transition him to the outfield, where, depending on the offseason moves of the team, could see an opening.  Remember, the team had four potential outfielders in 2009, but two of them, Matt Holliday and Rick Ankiel, are free agents with no guarantee that either will return.

If he continues to hit the way he has, they will be forced to give him an opportunity, one way or another.

Allen spent the entire 2009 season at Triple-A, where he posted the following statistics:

472 At Bats
.322 Batting Average (152 Hits)
26 Home Runs
83 RBI
78 Runs
3 Stolen Bases
.374 On Base Percentage
.547 Slugging Percentage
.359 Batting Average on Balls in Play

Obviously the BABIP is a bit unrealistic, but he’s posted usable averages in previous years that go along with repeatable numbers.  Look no further than his .304 average in 2008 at Double-A that came courtesy of a .332 BABIP.

He has displayed a solid eye at the plate, striking out 20.1% of the time in ’09 (and 17.2% in ’08).  While it would be expected that he regresses some once getting promoted to the Majors, he’s not likely to be at a range that cannot be offset.  Unless he seriously falls off a cliff with his eye at the plate, he should be able to post an average around .280, at worst.

The power is extremely for real, as he’s hit at every level:

  • 2007: 24 HR between Single & Double-A
  • 2008: 22 HR at Double-A
  • 2009: 26 HR at Triple-A

As Baseball America says, “Craig has a level swing with good torque and bat speed. He generates the best and most consistent power”.  They also dubbed him the best power hitter in the organization.

Not only that, he delivered when his team needed him most.  As Erick Mack of CBS Sports says, “He put his Triple-A team on his back down the stretch, too, getting hits in 40 of the final 46 games en route to the playoffs. In the second half alone, Craig went an eye-opening .405-18-51-47-2 (.449-.764)”

Those are some mighty impressive numbers, especially when you consider the level of competition, and at 25-years old, what does the 2008 8th Round draft pick have left to prove?  If the Cardinals aren’t going to have a spot for him (alongside Colby Rasmus & Ryan Ludwick), they certainly could trade him to help acquire a necessary piece to the puzzle.

One way or another he deserves a chance in the Majors and should be on your fantasy radar.  If he does get an opportunity to play everyday he should approach 25 HR, as he has at every other level of professional baseball.  Couple that with a solid average and good approach at the plate and he easily could prove usable in all formats.

What are your thoughts?  How good do you think Craig could be?  Is he someone that you are keeping an eye on?

You can read other recent Prospect Reports including:

Pablo Sandoval: An anamoly, or potential long-term star?
Should Omir Santos Start For The Mets, Let Alone For Those In 2-Catcher Formats?

2 comments

  1. Mark says:

    You always keep an eye on these types, but I stay cautious because of the Dallas McPherson types that never make it.

    I would say that it would be nice if he became a first baseman. That way the Cardinals can move “that other guy” they have playing first base to a new position and he could be eligible as a third baseman or something else like he was back in the olden days.

  2. Brian says:

    No way they move Albert for Craig. Albert’s elbow won’t allow him to play a position where hard throws are a regular requirement. Craig’s going to have to learn how to play LF or 3B well, because there’s nowhere else for him to go with the big league team. I hope he makes the squad as a sub next spring, because our bench was atrocious last year (Joe Thurston and Chris Duncan anyone?).

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