Where will Oneil Cruz Play in the Majors? Where will Jarrod Dyson Bat? And More in the Pittsburgh Pirates Mailbag

(Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images)
(Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images) /
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With the Pittsburgh Pirates having a day off from Grapefruit League action on Tuesday, what better time than today to do a mailbag!

What position will Oneil Cruz play when he reaches the Majors? Where will Jarrod Dyson bat? And more in this week’s Pittsburgh Pirates mailbag.

As always, thank you to everyone who submitted questions this week and participated. Now, let’s dive in!

This is a question that Pirate fans will be asking a lot between now and Cruz’s MLB debut, which will likely come in the summer of 2021. There is no denying Cruz’s ability to hit. The left-handed slugger is a top 65 prospect in all of baseball according to Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, FanGraphs, and MLB Pipeline for a reason.

His defense, however, is not one of these reasons. Cruz is listed at 6-foot-7, but may be taller than that. He continues to insist that he wants to remain at the shortstop position, and, as of now, he is still a shortstop. While he is not a poor defensive shortstop he is simply average at best, and with his size it is tough to envision him not outgrowing the position and ending up in the outfield or at first base.

Luckily for Cruz and the Pirates, the odds of the National League having the designated hitter by the time he makes his MLB debut seem fairly high. Most believe that the NL will adopt the DH prior to the start of the 2021 season. If this happens, there is a very good chance that Cruz will become the first full time DH in Pirate franchise history.

It will be interesting to see where Dyson bats. Last season Dyson posted a .313 on-base percentage, which was slightly worse than his career .319 OBP. Neither of these marks are strong. Ideally, you want your lead off man to get on base at least at a .330 clip. That said, you very well may still see Dyson at the top of the lineup.

While his OBP was poor, his 10.4% walk rate last season was above league average. As was his 11.4% walk rate in 2018. So, with a slight increase in quality contact he could see an increase in OBP. He also possesses some of the best speed in the game and could be a game wrecker on the bases at the top of the lineup.

Where he bats may also hinge on how the rest of the lineup shakes out. If Kevin Newman is in the lineup he will likely be batting lead off. This could bump Dyson to the two hole or all the way down to the eight hole, neither of which would be a surprise. If the team goes with more of Cole Tucker at shortstop, then there’s a good chance fans see a lot of Dyson at the top of the lineup.

As for batting him 9th and the pitcher 8th, that’s a move that screams over-managing. It is one that does not benefit teams enough to make it worthwhile.

The Pirates breaking camp with three catchers would be a major surprise. So, you can look for the team to carry two catchers when the regular season begins in Tampa Bay on March 26th with one of those two catchers being Jacob Stallings.

So far this spring John Ryan Murphy has made his case to be the team’s back up catcher. The veteran minor league signee has hit a pair of home runs, including a grand slam, in five games in Grapefruit League play.

Meanwhile, MLB free agent signing Luke Maile has found himself battling a hamstring issue in recent days. It should also be noted that Maile’s contract is a two-way contract which means he can be optioned to the minor leagues to start the season.

While an argument can be made for Murphy to make the MLB club in order to cultivate catching depth, Murphy can opt out of his contract if he does not make the MLB club out of Spring Training, the safe bet would still be for Maile to start the season backing up Stallings. Now if Maile’s hamstring issue lingers on… this could change.

Not at all.

It’s Spring Training. So, the results are meaningless. One thing that can happen in Spring Training to change expectations are injuries. So far this spring, the only injuries the Pirates have suffered that will linger into the regular season have been to Clay Holmes and Steven Brault. Being without a pair of middle/long relievers is not going to impact a season.

Now, yes, Gregory Polanco has looked healthy this spring, but that is something that was expected. You can put me firmly in the camp that is expected a big bounce back season from Polanco. So, him looking strong thus far is no surprise.

Still currently see this team as a 73-75 win club.

Barring some sort of injury, there is no chance the Pirates sign Yasiel Puig. Fans were enamored with the for Dodger, Red, and Indian slugger earlier in the off-season, but Puig is a corner outfielder and the team needed help in center field. Now that said help has been added in the form of Dyson, there is no longer a spot or a need for another outfielder. Dyson will be in center, Polanco in right, Bryan Reynolds in left field, and Guillermo Heredia will be the team’s fourth otufielder.

Next. Brault Shut Down With Shoulder Strain. dark

That will do it for this week. If you ever have a question for the mailbag look for out Tweet asking for questions each week. Also, do not be afraid to ask a question on Twitter or Facebook at any time.

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