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Futures Game moves Craig another step closer to dream

Jeff Birchfield • Jul 3, 2019 at 12:36 AM

Will Craig is looking forward to being part of Major League Baseball’s All-Star weekend.

The former Science Hill star, now playing first base for the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Triple-A affiliate Indianapolis Indians, was selected to the MLB All-Star Futures game on June 28.

Craig, a first-round pick and 22nd overall choice in the 2016 baseball draft out of Wake Forest, drove in 102 runs, fifth best in all the minor leagues for the Double-A Altoona Curve last season.

He has adapted well to the Class AAA level, having recorded 17 home runs, 48 RBIs and 13 doubles in 77 games for Indianapolis.

Kicking off All-Star festivities in Cleveland on Sunday is an experience the 24-year-old Craig is greatly anticipating.

“It’s a step closer to my dream,” he said. “I’m super excited and can’t wait to play. You always dream when you’re growing up that you’re going to play in the big leagues and play in the All-Star Game. Right now, it’s as close as I can get and it’s an awesome experience. It’s something that D-No (Daniel Norris) got to do a couple of years ago and I’m glad to be a part of it as well.”

Norris, another Science Hill alum who’s now with the Detroit Tigers, pitched in the 2014 Futures Game. He threw one perfect inning in Team USA’s 3-2 win over the World Team.

Craig looks to have a similar impact and is glad to share the field with other top prospects. The game gives him a chance to rub elbows with some of the best players in baseball, an opportunity Craig had a few months ago at Pirates spring training.

“When I was in spring training, I got to play against a lot of teams and guys,” Craig said. “There were guys like Andrew McCutchen with the Phillies and Jose (Miguel) Cabrera with Detroit. One pretty cool moment, I’m on first base and Cabrera, he’s tugging on my jersey. That was a surreal experience and I was fan boy a little bit. He was one of my idols growing up and (admired) how he hit and how he played.

“I played against Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton at spring training as well. That’s when it hit me, that I’m playing close to the level and hopefully at the same level as these guys soon.”

Craig went 2-for-3 with a run scored in that Feb. 28 game against the Yankees.

K-METS REPRESENTED

Jarred Kelenic, the New York Mets’ first-round draft pick and sixth overall in the 2018 draft who played for Kingsport, also was chosen for the Futures game.

Kelenic had 44 hits, drew 22 walks and scored 33 runs in 44 games with the K-Mets.

Since traded to the Seattle Mariners organization, the 19-year-old outfielder is currently playing for the advanced Single-A Modesto Nuts.

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