Pittsburgh Pirates Best Prospects By Each Tool: Position Players
By Noah Wright
Arm/Throw – Oneil Cruz
MLB Pipeline: 70
Fangraphs (Throw): 80, future 80
Pittsburgh Pirates prospect Oneil Cruz has a rocket on his shoulder. Only three other prospects have an MLB Pipeline arm grade of 70 or better, and two of them are catchers. FanGraphs’ 80 grade puts him above elite territory, and ties him for the highest throw grade with 5 other prospects. In short, very few, if any other prospects are even on par with Cruz’s throwing grade.
The shortstop was originally signed as a third baseman, so it’s understandable why he has such a strong throwing arm. But with many other prospects aligned up the middle, ones who are far better fielders than Cruz, the infielder’s final position might be the outfield.
Cruz right now grades as an average defender at shortstop by MLB Pipeline, and below average according to FanGraphs. However, shortstops are some of the most athletic players in the game, and it’s a position the Pirates have a lot of depth in. Plus given his cannon of an arm, Cruz should see some time in right field.
After all, he does have the speed (60 speed grade by FanGraphs, 55 run grade by MLB Pipeline) to cover enough ground to quantify a move to the outfield. If he currently grades out as an average to slightly below average defender at shortstop, he should grade as a good outfield defender as well. Plus right field is where you want your strongest armed outfielder.