With the Oneil Cruz situation happening about a month ago, I feel it’s time to put together a comprehensive timeline of important events relating to the accident.
In a big news story, you can easily be lost in the amount of details coming out so fast by so many sources. One source might report one thing while another could be reporting something completely different. In today’s world of instant news, getting caught up can be a chore on its own. One of the biggest stories to come out of the Pittsburgh Pirates happened last month with top prospect Oneil Cruz involved in a fatal car accident. I am here today to try and put together an accurate timeline of events of what happened that night, up until today.
First, let’s get into who Cruz is. Cruz is one of, if not the best prospect in the Pittsburgh Pirates system. Cruz, who was acquired by the Bucs in the trade that sent Tony Watson to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Standing at 6’7, 210 pounds, the shortstop has imense power with FanGraphs giving his game power a 60 future grade and his raw power a future 80 grade. Cruz also runs fairly well with a current 60 speed grade. Though he is a shortstop, Cruz’s final positon might be the outfield given his overall solid but unimpressive glove at the middle infield position, and his powerful arm that has an 80 grade. Currently, FanGraphs ranks him as the 27th best prospect in baseball.
On the morning of September 22, 2020, ESPN reported that Dominican authorities had arrested Cruz on after a deadly crash at 1 AM. This is far from the first time the MLB has seen a tragic crash that involved a budding star. Just a few years ago in 2017, the Kansas City Royals had lost ace Yordano Ventura in a car accident. A few years before in 2014, the St. Louis Cardinals lost prospect Oscar Tavares in another accident.
According to the report by authorities, the accident Cruz was involved in left three people dead. The three people had been riding a motorcycle with Cruz in a Jeep, but all of it was made worse when it came out that Cruz was apparently driving under the influence of alcohol on the opposite side of the road. As of this time, Cruz could be facing up to five years in jail for what happened. Cruz would have to face the court the next day. It is notable that Cruz was fully cooperative in the investigation.
After the court hearing, Cruz’s bail was set at 2 million pesos, or about $34,000, according to Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. He also must appear in front of the court every month. However the top prospect was far from out of the woods. Cruz not only was apparently drunk at the time of the crash, but out past curfew that was put in place to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
However, there was one big break for Cruz. According to the Attorney General’s Office’s spokeswoman, Cruz smelled of alcohol, but there was no test done to prove that he was under the influence.
Cruz’s lawyer, Yajaria Gomez Ortiz, made a statement on Facebook that absolutely rips the original reports that he was under the influence of alcohol or driving recklessly. The motorcycle Cruz had hit was driving without lights. One of the largest parts of this story that the authorities failed to mention is that Cruz was the one to place the 911 call. Ortiz also includes documents that show that there was no record or documentation of a sobriety test being conducted by the General Directorate of Traffic Safety and Land Transportation. You can read Ortiz’s full statement, and look at the documents he had here.
Another very promising development for Cruz came in the form of a Tweet from MLB Insider Hector Gomez. Gomez stated that a man who lived near where the accident saw Cruz carrying his child, who had a fever, and his wife was at risk of a miscarage.
General manager Ben Cherington speaks publicly about the incident for the first time, according to the Trib Live. At the end of the 2020 season, Cruz had left camp early to help support his pregnant wife who was suffering from complications, as stated earlier by Gomez. Cherington went on to say on 93.7 The Fan that “there’s not a single piece of evidence from what we’ve seen that this is anything but an accident”. Three days later on the 30th, Jason Mackey tweeted out that Cherington fully expects the powerful prospect to be a full participant in Spring Training 2021.
So here we are a little over a month later, and it seems Cruz will be back with the Pittsburgh Pirates. No damning evidence has surfaced that could point this being nothing more than a very tragic accident. Regardless, this had to put a great deal of mental strain on Cruz. Not only was he part of an accident that left three dead, but the emotional drama of taking care of his sick pregnant wife and child, and the stress of being accused of such actions like driving drunk probably caused chaos for the 21-year-old. Hopefully, he is fully healthy mentally and returns to crushing baseballs by March.