Oneil Cruz Pittsburgh Pirates

Age: 23 (October 04, 1998) | 6' 6" | 175lbs. SS-2 PH-1
PIT R 2019 3 10 0 6 1 1 1 0 0 1 1 0 .600 .636 .700 9 9 .667 n/a
PIT A+ 2019 35 136 21 41 8 38 6 1 7 16 7 3 .301 .345 .515 6 26 .374 n/a
PIT AA 2019 35 119 14 32 15 35 8 3 1 17 3 1 .269 .346 .412 11 26 .365 n/a
PIT AA 2021 68 271 62 84 28 69 16 5 17 47 19 3 .310 .375 .594 9 23 .360 n/a
PIT NL 2021 2 9 2 3 0 4 0 0 1 3 0 0 .333 .333 .667 0 44 .500 60/20/20 1 1
Career 1yr 2 9 2 3 0 4 0 0 1 3 0 0 .333 .333 .667 0 44 .500 n/a
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Leading BA's list of top 10 Pirates prospects, unveiled yesterday.

1. Oneil Cruz | SS
Oneil Cruz
Born: Oct 4, 1998 
Bats: L Throws: R 
Ht.: 6'7" Wt.: 210 
Drafted/Signed: Dominican Republic, 2015. 
Signed By: Patrick Guerrero/Franklin Taveras/Bob Engle (Dodgers). 
Minors: .310/.375/.594 | 17 HR | 19 SB | 271 AB 

BA Grade: 65/High

Track Record: Cruz tests the imagination of evaluators and scouts alike. He first worked out for clubs as a 15-year-old amateur shortstop standing at 6-foot-1 in 2015, but grew nearly six inches before making his pro debut the following year. He’s been something of a baseball unicorn since as a 6-foot-7 shortstop, inviting annual skepticism that, at some point, a position change is necessary. Yet the immensely talented Cruz continues to stave off such a decision. He spent most of 2021 manning shortstop at Double-A Altoona, where his .530 slugging percentage ranked ninth-best among all hitters in his league with 200 or more plate appearances. Cruz missed nearly seven weeks with a forearm injury, but made a brief stop in Triple-A upon returning before Pittsburgh summoned him for his big league debut in October. He dazzled Pirates fans in a brief two-game cameo, homering in his second game while also becoming the tallest starting shortstop in MLB history. 

Scouting Report: Cruz boasts a treasure trove of plus power, speed and throwing ability with a legitimate chance to stick on the dirt. He possesses otherworldly raw power, generating elite exit velocities via the leverage created by his long levers. Cruz already owns the Pirates’ record for exit velocity in the Statcast era -- a 118.2 mph single in his debut -- and is capable of producing 30-homer seasons perennially in his peak. He’ll always battle swing-and-miss and it’s sometimes exacerbated by his aggressive approach. He walked just 7.2 percent of the time with Double-A Altoona in 2021 and tactful pitchers mindful of sequencing can exploit both the inherent length to his swing and his eagerness. One evaluator noted there are times pitchers can catch Cruz guessing while hunting specific pitches, but he showed an ability to make adjustments in his approach throughout an at-bat. Defensively, Cruz easily has a plus arm. There’s less consensus on where he should deploy it. The Pirates remain steadfast that Cruz has the ingredients to stick at shortstop, citing his smooth hands and surprisingly deft infield actions. He will likely always face concerns about his range and ability to handle the demands of the position over a full season, but increased shifting could mitigate some of those worries. Some of his 16 errors came from rushing his throwing mechanics. Cruz is also a plus runner, leading to speculation about a long-term home in either center or right field, but he has yet to appear in the outfield outside of practice settings.

The Future: Pittsburgh figures to give Cruz a chance to win the starting shortstop job out of spring training. While refinement is needed and the development of other players during Pittsburgh’s rebuild may ultimately dictate his defensive home, Cruz has the highest impact potential of any player in the Pirates system and one of baseball’s more dynamic skill sets.

Scouting Grades: Hit: 50. Power: 70. Speed: 60. Fielding: 50. Arm: 60

Alex Patton Alex
Clocks first home run
October 3, 2021
Cruz went 1-for-4 with a two-run homer in Sunday's 6-3 loss to the Reds.
Cruz swatted a 408-foot shot in the ninth inning of Sunday's loss for his first MLB long ball. The 6-foot-7 rookie went 3-for-9 with three RBI in his quick two-game taste of big-league action this season.
Alex Patton Alex
Oct 4

Promoted for the final two games to get a cup of coffee.

Kent Ostby Seadogs
Oct 2

Oneil Cruz, SS, Pirates — Cruz went 1-for-3 with a single on Sunday. It’s not a flashy day, but it does provide a chance to check in on the Pirates’ prospect. The Pirates started to dabble with Cruz playing center field this spring, although he still is primarily a shortstop. There’s very few examples of 6-foot-7 center fielders, but it has happened before in the majors (Aaron Judge for example) while Cruz would be MLB’s first 6-foot-7 shortstop. Cruz is hitting .111/.200/.148 this spring, so it’s not been a good month at the plate for the 22-year-old.

Alex Patton Alex
Mar 29