St. Louis Cardinals’ outfielder Allen Craig, 25, made his Major League debut Thursday afternoon in the Cardinals’ 2-1 loss against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ballpark. The former Alexandria Beetle was the starting right fielder in the game and went 0-for-4 at the plate.
Craig, a .306 hitter in four seasons in the minor leagues, made the big league roster out of Spring Training by batting .300 with eight doubles, two home runs and nine RBI in 21 exhibition games. In Triple-A Springfield in 2009, Craig was a .322 hitter with 26 doubles, 26 home runs and 83 RBI. He was originally an 8th round draft choice by the Cardinals in 2006.
Craig, a native of Temecula, California, played two seasons in the Northwoods League. He joined the Beetles in 2003 after his freshman season at the University of California but only played in 15 games and batted .229 with two home runs before leaving the team due to an injury. He returned to Alexandria in 2005 following his junior season at Cal and had one of the better seasons in Northwoods League history. Playing in 49 games he hit .362 with 17 doubles, 12 home runs and 40 RBI. He finished the season with a 21-game hitting streak, which is the fourth longest in Northwoods League history. The majority of Craig’s games in the NWL were as a shortstop but he also saw time in the outfield, third base and first base.
At 6’2” 210 pounds Craig was originally drafted as a shortstop. He’s played a lot of third base in the minor leagues but solely left field and first base in spring training games the last two seasons. With superstars Matt Holiday and Albert Pujols anchoring those two positions for the Cardinals, Craig’s at bats won’t often come from those positions in regular season games.
The Northwoods League has more teams, plays more games, and draws more fans than any Summer Collegiate Baseball League in North America. A total of 61 NWL alumni have gone on to play in the big leagues.