The Pittsburgh Pirates have one of their top shortstop prospects playing in High-A Bradenton. He was battling injuries in the early going.
Coming into the season, the Pittsburgh Pirates most intriguing prospect in the organization was shortstop Oneil Cruz. The Pittsburgh Pirates acquired the shortstop from the Los Angeles Dodgers back in 2017 for Tony Watson. Cruz has all the physical and baseball tools that one could ask for a prospect to have, so how has he done so far this year?
First and foremost, Oneil Cruz is a consensus top five prospect in the Pittsburgh Pirates system. He also is already being noted as a top 100 prospect. Right now, on MLB Pipeline, Cruz ranks as the number 91 overall prospect. The expectations are now set for him to turn into an impact player when he eventually reaches the Pittsburgh Pirates.
What makes Cruz so intriguing is his physical makeup. He stands at 6’6” and weighs 175 pounds, giving him all the projection in the world. He broke out last year at Low-A hitting .286/.343/.488 with 14 home runs in 103 games. He did this all at the age of 19, showing how advanced he already is at such a young age.
So the expectation coming into this season was for Cruz to continue to progress. He realistically could end up being a Top 50 prospect in baseball by the end of the year. However, his season is off to a somewhat slow start.
Cruz played in the first six games out of the first seven days of the Minor League season. He seemed to be off to a good start having seven hits in those six games. However, from April 11th until April 22nd the big shortstop only played in one game. With that being said, there were no real updates on Cruz, he was not placed on the Injured List, and the organization did not release any info either.
According to John Dreker of Pirates Prospects, Cruz was dealing with “lower body discomfort”. This actually was relayed to him from the head of the Pittsburgh Pirates Minor League operations Larry Broadway. Instead of placing Cruz on the Injured List, the team sent him to Extended Spring Training.
Cruz returned to game action last night for the Bradenton Marauders. He showed some rust going 1-4 with three strikeouts. On the year, he is batting .267/.333/.400 with one home run so far. If Cruz can get back to being healthy, it will be really exciting to see what he can do this year. The good news is that he is back and playing again.