Pittsburgh Pirates Prospects: Three Young Pitchers to Watch in 2022

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Pittsburgh Pirates
PITTSBURGH, PA – MAY 29: A detailed view of the Nike Cleats and Stance Socks worn by Erik Gonzalez #2 of the Pittsburgh Pirates during Game Two of the doubleheader against the Colorado Rockies at PNC Park on May 29, 2021 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images) /

Cristopher Cruz

Cristopher Cruz was one of the Pirates’ top signings in the 2019-2020 offseason. Cruz was considered the best Dominican pitcher when the Pittsburgh Pirates signed him back in 2019. He was ranked as the 20th best international prospect by FanGraphs while coming in at #25 per MLB Pipeline.

The Bucs signed Cruz to an $850,000 deal. Cruz’s first bout against professional hitters saw him take his lumps. In 29.1 innings, the right-hander had a 6.44 ERA, 6.23 FIP, more walks than strikeouts (23/25 K/BB ratio). However, there were some silver linings. He had a 47.2% ground ball rate, .61 HR/9, and 15.7% LD%.

Cruz currently averages out in the low-90’s. It has some late sinking break to it and has plus potential. His curveball and change-up are also considered pitches with average to above-average offerings. Cruz just turned 19-years-old back on January 6th, so he has plenty of time to develop fully.

Cruz stands at a projectable 6-foot-2, 170 pounds. Once he cleans up his delivery and adds some muscle, he could be a guy who grows into a fastball that sits around 93-95 MPH. The right-hander has projectability and talent on his side.