Pittsburgh Pirates Prospects: Omar Cruz Impresses in Double-A Debut


On Friday night, left-handed Pittsburgh Pirates pitching prospect Omar Cruz impressed in his first start at the Double-A level

When the Pittsburgh Pirates traded Joe Musgrove to the San Diego Padres they received a five-player package. One of the five players the Pirates received in the trade was left-handed starting pitcher Omar Cruz.

The 22-year-old Cruz was one of the more overlooked players acquired by the Pittsburgh Pirates during their busy offseason. However, all Cruz has done throughout his minor league career is pitch well.

In 133 innings pitched in the minor leagues across 31 games (30 starts) Cruz has posted a 2.50 ERA. While he’s walked 9.9% of batters faced, Cruz has also generated strikeouts at a 31.6% rate. Additionally, Cruz has allowed just 5 home runs which comes out to a strong home run rate of 0.38 HR/9.

The Pittsburgh Pirates had Cruz begin the 2021 season with the High-A Greensboro Grasshoppers. This was Cruz’s first taste of the High-A level, and it did not take him long to earn a promotion to Double-A Altoona.

Cruz pitched 28.2 innings in 7 starts with Greensboro. Cruz posted a 3.45 ERA and a 4.56 FIP in these 28.2 innings pitched. While he allowed 4 of the 5 home runs he’s surrendered in his career, leading to a 1.26 HR/9, Cruz struck out 32.2% of batters faced. However, control continued to be a bit of a bugaboo with an 11.9% walk rate.

Toeing the rubber at the Double-A level for the first time, Cruz turned in an impressive start on Friday night. Throughout the night he pounded the strike zone and kept opposing batters off balance and uncomfortable at the plate.

Cruz pitched 6 innings for the Curve in his first start with Altoona. Cruz allowed 5 hits, 1 unearned run and he struck out a pair. Most impressive and encouragingly, Cruz did not walk a single batter flashing strong control.

In the start Cruz needed just 73 pitches to get through his 6 strong innings of work. Cruz threw 53 of these 73 pitches for strikes, giving him a healthy 73% strike rate. If Cruz can continue to improve his control he can shoot up Pirate prospect boards.

Cruz throws a fastball, curveball and a changeup. MLB Pipeline gives Cruz’s fastball and curveball a future value of 50. His changeup has a future value of 55. MLB Pipeline’s overall future value for Cruz is 45, meaning he projects as a middle-to-back of the rotation arm in the Majors.

Cruz’s fastball sits in the low 90s and he controls it well. His curveball has good spin at comes at hitters from over the top. Cruz’s changeup is a pitch that has good deception and is a pitch that keeps batters off balanced in the box.

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While Cruz is one of the more underrated and overlooked prospects the Pittsburgh Pirates have in their deep, talented farm system, he is an arm fans should be keeping an eye on the rest of the season. If he continues to pitch well with Double-A Altoona he could reach Triple-A Indianapolis later this season. Even if that does not happen, Cruz, if he pitches well, should reach Triple-A by early next season, potentially setting him up for a 2022 MLB debut.