Pittsburgh Pirates 2022 Staff Predictions: Marty Leap

Mar 18, 2022; Bradenton, Florida, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates manager Derek shelton (17) looks on in the fourth inning against the New York Yankees during spring training at LECOM Park. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 18, 2022; Bradenton, Florida, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates manager Derek shelton (17) looks on in the fourth inning against the New York Yankees during spring training at LECOM Park. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports /
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Oct 3, 2021; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop Oneil Cruz (61) throws to first base against the Cincinnati Reds during the first inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 3, 2021; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop Oneil Cruz (61) throws to first base against the Cincinnati Reds during the first inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

Rookie of the Year – Shortstop Oneil Cruz

Did you expect anyone else? Oneil Cruz stole the show in spring training and was the star of the Grapefruit League for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Cruz made as strong a push as possible to be a member of the team’s Opening Day roster.

In Grapefruit League play Cruz hit for a .333/.333/.733 slash line. He slugged a pair of home runs and struck out just 3 times in 15 plate appearances. Cruz had one hard hit ball after another, including a pair that were hit over 113 MPH. This is something that only three Pirate hitters have done more than once since 2013, Cruz did it twice this spring.

But, alas, Cruz will start the season at Triple-A. Odds are Cruz will not be there long, though. Once the allotted time passes for the Pittsburgh Pirates to secure a 7th year of control for Cruz, unless he is a top finisher for NL Rookie of the Year, he will be in the majors.

Cruz could join the Pirates by early May, especially if Kevin Newman is struggling offensively. Once Cruz reaches the majors he could quickly hit his way to being not just the Pirate Rookie of the Year, but the NL Rookie of the Year.

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