Pittsburgh Pirates: Analyzing Best Position Player Prospect Tools

BRADENTON, FLORIDA - MARCH 02: Ke'Bryan Hayes #13 of the Pittsburgh Pirates looks on prior to the game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Detroit Tigers during a spring training game at LECOM Park on March 02, 2021 in Bradenton, Florida. (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)
BRADENTON, FLORIDA - MARCH 02: Ke'Bryan Hayes #13 of the Pittsburgh Pirates looks on prior to the game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Detroit Tigers during a spring training game at LECOM Park on March 02, 2021 in Bradenton, Florida. (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images) /
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BRADENTON, FLORIDA – MARCH 02: Oneil Cruz #61 of the Pittsburgh Pirates stands at the plate during the fourth inning against the Detroit Tigers during a spring training game at LECOM Park on March 02, 2021 in Bradenton, Florida. (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)
BRADENTON, FLORIDA – MARCH 02: Oneil Cruz #61 of the Pittsburgh Pirates stands at the plate during the fourth inning against the Detroit Tigers during a spring training game at LECOM Park on March 02, 2021 in Bradenton, Florida. (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images) /

Power

Oneil Cruz

FanGraphs: Game: 30/60 Raw: 70/80

MLB Pipeline: 60

Some have soured their opinion on Oneil Cruz, but he’s still a top 100 prospect in the eyes of Baseball America, MLB Pipeline and a borderline top 100 prospect by FanGraphs. Plus, he has minimal playing time above High-A.

Cruz’s best tool is his raw power ability. His towering 6’7″, 210 pound frame helped him generate an exit velocity of 91 MPH and 50% hard hit rate. Those kind of batted ball numbers would be right at home with guys like Eloy Jimenez, Ronald Acuna Jr., J.D. Martinez, Nelson Cruz and Bryce Harper.

Cruz broke out as one of the top prospects the Pittsburgh Pirates have in 2018 when he hit .286/.343/.488 with 14 home runs, 25 doubles, with a .3 65 wOBA and 134 wRC+ in 443 plate appearances between at Low-A.

This is also where he started to show some pop with a .201 isolated slugging percentage. Cruz got off to a solid start in 2019 hitting .301/.345/.501 with 7 home runs, a .391 wOBA, 154 wRC+ and .211 ISO in his first 145 PA’s of the season with Bradenton, but a fractured foot hampered his power ability. When he was promoted to Double-A, he posted a solid .269/.346/.415 line with a .339 wOBA and 120 wRC+. While his power was brought down some, he doubled his walk rate while striking out just a bit less frequently than at High-A.

Cruz’s final position with the Pittsburgh Pirates is still up in the air. He mainly played third base early in his career, but with Hayes seen as the long term hot corner defender, that won’t be a long term option for Cruz. He’s mainly played shortstop throughout his pro career, and while he isn’t an awful defender at the middle infield position with a 45-grade on FanGraphs and 50-grade on MLB Pipeline, the Pirates have a more typically built SS in Liover Peguero. Cruz is starting to see some time in centerfield, which could be one of his long term homes.

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