Pittsburgh Pirates Prospects: Four Curve Players Pushing for a Promotion

Mar 1, 2019; Dunedin, FL, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates third baseman Rodolfo Castro (90) throws to first base to retire Toronto Blue Jays catcher Luke Maile (not pictured) during the sixth inning at Dunedin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 1, 2019; Dunedin, FL, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates third baseman Rodolfo Castro (90) throws to first base to retire Toronto Blue Jays catcher Luke Maile (not pictured) during the sixth inning at Dunedin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports /
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Pittsburgh Pirates
BRADENTON, FLORIDA – MARCH 02: Oneil Cruz #61 of the Pittsburgh Pirates swings at a pitch 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) /

Shortstop Oneil Cruz

There are few hitters in the Pirate farm system with a higher ceiling than Oneil Cruz. The lefty slugger, however, also has a pretty high bust potential. That said, his performance thus far this season at Double-A has helped to put a lot of those fears to rest.

Through his first 150 PAs this season Cruz has hit for a .292/.349/.562 slash line to go with a 145 wRC+. Cruz’s power potential has been on full display with a strong .270 ISO, 8 home runs and an extra base hit rate of 12%.

Another encouraging sign from Cruz has been his strikeout rate. While his 23.2% strikeout rate is higher than you would like to see, it is his lowest strikeout rate since he was at Low-A in 2018. One of the big knocks on Cruz has always been his swing-and-miss potential but he has improved that this season.

The big knock on Cruz this season has been his defense. There have long been questions about rather or not he can stick at shortstop. So far this season he has already committed 10 errors, leading to Noah wondering if it’s time to move Cruz to the outfield. Regardless of Cruz’s defense, if he continues to rake anywhere near the way he has at Double-A this season he’ll have a bright future ahead of him.

Cruz, like Contreras, could be knocking on the door of the Majors by the end of the season if he gets to Triple-A sooner rather than later. Even if that does not happen, again, like Contreras, Cruz should be in line to join the Major League roster early in the 2022 season.

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