Pittsburgh Pirates: Five Prospects Who Can Make MLB Impact in 2022

Altoona Curve starting pitcher Roansy Contreras throws against the Erie SeaWolves on June 15, 2021, at UPMC Park in Erie.P6seawolves061521
Altoona Curve starting pitcher Roansy Contreras throws against the Erie SeaWolves on June 15, 2021, at UPMC Park in Erie.P6seawolves061521 /
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Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

Shortstop/outfielder Oneil Cruz

There are few hitters in the Pirate farm system, and in all of minor league baseball, with a higher ceiling than Oneil Cruz. After spending the 2020 season at the alternate training site in Altoona, he returned to Altoona this season but this time it was to play for the Curve.

Prior to being promoted to Indianapolis on Sunday evening Cruz was hitting for a .292/.346/.536 slash line in 273 PAs with the Curve. He had hit 12 home runs, posted a .244 ISO and a 136 wRC+. He also has dropped his strikeout rate to 23.4% which is the second lowest of his professional career.

Watching what Cruz can do with Indy down the stretch this season will be worthwhile for Pirate fans. Cruz has all of the potential in the world as a power hitter and he appears to have taken more steps toward reaching that potential this season.

Cruz will start the 2022 season back at Indianapolis. If he hits well for the Indians he could be in the heart of the Pirate lineup by next summer. The question could be what position Cruz will be at?

He still is playing shortstop in the minor leagues despite there long being rumors of him moving to the outfield. Cruz did start to play some outfield this season, but with the designated hitter likely coming to the National League next season Cruz could also find himself as the Pirate designated hitter next season.

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