Pittsburgh Pirates: Oneil Cruz Is Finding His Stride


The Pittsburgh Pirates top shortstop prospect is finding his stride this June, looking to find his way up to Triple-A Indianapolis this summer.

The Pittsburgh Pirates need power and speed, and their current prospects to develop.  This is where the previous regime struggled, but Ben Cherington was hired to fix that issue.  One player in particular that will be of interest is Oneil Cruz.  While Cruz drew early comparisons to Gregory Polanco, this is an illustration of the need for better development.  Polanco was a supposedly can’t miss prospect but he has not played that way as a Pittsburgh Pirate.  That is why Cruz needs to be developed.

Contributor Noah Wright looked at how the shortstop prospect was impressing in Double-A, but there is more to it.  In May, Cruz hit a solid .256/.333/.513 but he has really turned it up this month, hitting .353/.405/.647.  In 20 May games, he hit four home runs, but in eight June games he already has three.  His strikeout rate has dropped from 26 percent to 22 percent, while he went three-for-five on the bases in May he is a perfect four-for-four this month.

This isn’t necessarily a surprise.  We’ve pointed out that Cruz is a slow starter before.  What’s important is that he is hitting the ball better and striking out less.  The big area of concern on him is the swing-and-miss, so with a lowered strikeout rate this month, he is trending in the right direction.  If he keeps performing like this, he could find himself in Triple-A Indianapolis sooner rather than later.  The big thing will be the fielding, as he has nine errors in 28 games.

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While Cruz is no doubt impressing in Double-A, he’s starting to find his stride in June.  His strikeouts are down and power up, all positive signs for the shortstop.  The defense needs work but he is making a case to be moved up by mid summer.