2009 Cardinals Prospect #14 – Allen Craig

Despite a good 2008, the third base prospect has more competition, dropping three spots in our rankings as a result.

Scout.com Player Profile (including links to full 2008 and career stats)

2008 ranking: #11

Position: 3B

DOB: 7/18/1984

Height: 6-foot-2

Weight: 190

Bats: Right

Throws: Right

School: Cal

Became a Cardinal: Selected in the eighth round of the 2006 First-Year Player Draft.

Selected 2008 stats

SPR 0.304 506 84 154 30 0 22 85 48 87 2 0.373 0.494 0.867

Staff comments (individual rankings in parens)

Dustin Mattison (15): Craig proved his productive 2007 was not a fluke with 22 home runs at Double-A after hitting 24 home runs the previous season. A mid-season and post-season All-Star, Craig is one of the better power prospects in the system but finds himself in a logjam at third base. Look for Craig to get a lot of action in the outfield at Memphis in 2009.

Craig is an adequate defender at third who moves very well laterally but has trouble on balls it right at him. He has an average arm that is playable at third and the outfield. At the plate, Craig has a slight uppercut in his swing that helps provide good power to all fields. The 24 year old is just not a power hitter as he does have a lifetime .300 average in over 1100 minor league at bats.

With a strong spring, he could find himself in the mix for a utility role as a corner infielder/outfielder. If not, he will see how he matches up against Triple-A pitching.

Ray Mileur (13): An underrated third baseman as far as I'm concern, could see a lot more playing time in the outfield next season with the logjam of third basemen in the system. The mid and postseason Texas League All-Star finished the 2008 season hitting .304 with a team leading 22 home runs and 85 RBIs, playing in 129 games for the Double-A Cardinals. He also led the Springfield club with 154 hits, 30 doubles, 84 runs scored, 250 total bases and 40 walks, while playing better defense at third than some had expected. He has nothing else to prove with his bat at Double-A, but he'll likely spend most of the 09 campaign getting significant playing time in Springfield Cardinals outfield.

Message board community (15): Imagine putting up All-Star numbers in your first full season of professional baseball and being the 8th ranked minor leaguer at your position (Scout.com minor league rankings for 2008) and then having the organization trade for a player with similar numbers but a year older and promote him ahead of you. Then imagine putting being promoted to AA and putting up solid numbers again (.300 average 20+ home runs) and being recognized for improved defense only to move to 3rd on the minor league depth chart at your position. That is the recent tale of Allen Craig.

Craig still needs to improve his walk rate (though he doesn't strike out much for a power hitter either). Craig's OPS after the all-star break was a huge .990 though an area for concern was his low OPS (.748) away from his hitter friendly home park.

Craig still projects to be an average 3B using minor league projection numbers (almost the same as the more highly ranked David Freese) so he may end up at 3B in another organization or he may undergo a position switch. I am currently projecting him to be the 1B at AAA Memphis next year (due to lack of other candidates) though the Cardinals have indicated he 'll get a look in what is already a very crowded Memphis outfield. - CariocaCardinal

Brian Walton (18): Despite his solid 2008 season, Craig lost ground in these rankings and far more importantly, not only lost his role as the organization's top third base prospect, he is now third in the position's pecking order.

David Freese was acquired last winter and 2008 draftee Brett Wallace came onto the scene, ending the regular season, his first, at the same level as Craig, playing at his position. To make matters worse, Wallace scored the club's nod to play in the prestigious Arizona Fall League over Craig.

No way is Craig going to make the majors out of spring training 2009. Instead his goal should be to find a new position, probably first base, and stake his claim for playing time in Triple-A any way he can get it. Corner outfield would be even better, but the Cardinals are already jammed with other players there.

Returning to Springfield, where he was our Player of the Year in 2008, would accomplish nothing as Craig has proven he can play at that level. To accentuate the sense of urgency, he will turn 25 during the season. His time is ticking away.

To see our entire list of 40 prospects, click here. You can also read each of the voters' philosophies in making their selections.

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