2011 Cardinals Prospect #7 – Allen Craig

The Cardinals organization's 2009 Player of the Year is diversifying to in an attempt to remain in the big leagues.

Scout.com Player Profile (including links to full 2010 and career stats)

2010 rank Pos. DOB Ht. Wt. Bat Thw Signed Round
7 OF 7/18/1984 6-2 210 R R 2006 8th

School: University of California, Berkeley

Selected 2010 stats

MEM 0.320 306 57 98 24 2 14 81 34 59 1 0.389 0.549 0.938
StL 0.246 114 12 28 7 0 4 18 9 26 0 0.298 0.412 0.711

Staff comments (individual rankings in parentheses)

Dustin Mattison (6): It appeared that Craig would be platooning with Jon Jay in right but the acquisition of Lance Berkman has put that to rest. Now Craig goes to camp to battle for a bench job - something he did not appear comfortable doing in the early part of 2010.

I am concerned with Craig coming off the bench. When he was first exposed to this role in 2010, he hit .056 in limited action last April. I know the sample size is small but we only have small sample sizes from Craig in MLB action at this time.

With regular playing time down the stretch, Craig did look comfortable against major league pitching. Over his final 19 games including 13 starts, he hit .333/.398/.608 with three home runs in 51 at bats.

The one positive in regards to Craig is that at every level he has produced. Though scouts might have doubted him, he has hit on each stop of his minor league career and hit the ball with authority. Now the Cardinals are asking him to take balls at third to give him more versatility. If he can adjust to this new role, he can be the power bat off the bench the team hasn't had since Eduardo Perez left town.

Message board community (10): Allen Craig was the community's tenth prospect after having placed seventh last year. He made his major league debut at the age of 25. An eighth round pick in 2006, he rose quickly through the farm.

Craig has hit at every level, other than his debut in the New York/Penn League. His OPS has been at least .867 at each of his five full-season minor league stops. It was .921 at Memphis in 2009 and .938 in 2010. For those of us who want a righty who can pound lefty pitching, well, we might want to hold our judgment for a bit. He crushed righties last year in Memphis (OPS of 1.036 in 201 AB's), but struggled against lefties (OPS of .749 in 105 AB's). Craig hit righties better that lefties in the majors, too. He didn't have many Triple-A AB's (56) after the all-star break, but he made the most of them with an OPS of 1.142.

Craig struggled in the majors, sometimes looking overmatched and posting an OPS of .711 in 124 plate appearances. But…whereas his pre-all-star OPS was a terrible .196 (yes, OPS) in 19 AB's, after the break, he managed a robust .814 in 95 AB's. And he was even better in September (1.077) and October (.944), albeit in only 34 AB's combined. (Some of that late surge came after our prospect voting started.)

It's quite plausible Craig's weak start arose from his lengthy time riding the pine. If he can slug next year, and if his glove is at least tolerable at 3B, I could easily see him playing a supersub role, power off the bench for the corner outfield and infield. - Gagliano

Brian Walton (9): It seems a long time ago that Craig was the Minor League Player of the Year, yet it was just in 2009. If he can resume credible play at third base to at least match his capability in the outfield, Craig seems not only a lock for a bench spot in 2011, but could be the top right-handed bat off the bench. He has a history of hitting well in spring camp, so should be positioned well offensively heading into the season.

While Craig may have had the most to lose with the signing of Lance Berkman, he is stated to back up the two biggest health questions on the team in Berkman and David Freese. Further, if Berkman continues to struggle against left-handed pitching, Craig should be first in line to step in. In the meantime, he needs to master the difficult task of being ready every day despite not being a regular. Craig's future as a major leaguer depends on it.

Our 2011 top 40 countdown continues: To see our entire list of 40 Cardinals prospects, click here. You can also read each of the voters' philosophies in making their selections.

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