For Pittsburgh Pirates fans, the Oneil Cruz wait finally came to an end last week. The organization’s third-ranked prospect made his season debut on June 20 and has showcased his talent. While the sample size for Cruz is small, he has already made history. As the Pirates look to take the next step in their rebuild, Cruz is a beacon of why the future is bright in Pittsburgh.
Through his first eight games of the season, Cruz is hitting .250 with eight runs batted in. The 23-year-old also has shown his power as four of his eight hits have gone for extra bases. The Pirates’ offense has gotten a spark with Cruz in the lineup. He is not only making an impact with the bat but also with his legs.
In his 2022 debut, Cruz recorded the three fastest sprint speeds of a Pirate this season. It only took him three innings to accomplish the feat as he terrorized the Chicago Cubs pitching. The Pirates shortstop also has one stolen base and four runs. Dating back to last season, Cruz had a run, RBI, and multiple total bases in each of his first three career games. The only player who has done that in MLB history since 1920 is Joe DiMaggio. With Cruz in the lineup, the Pirates have a much-needed impact player to pair with Bryan Reynolds and Ke’Bryan Hayes.
While Cruz is just getting started, his potential has been on full display. He is hitting the ball hard and is confident every time he steps into the box. His mindset is what a franchise wants to see in a potential superstar. He told the Athletic, “You’re going to see a lot of baseballs hit hard and a lot of balls traveling very far.”
3 innings into his 2022 debut, @Pirates' Oneil Cruz has registered:
🏴☠️The hardest throw by an infielder in @MLB this year (96.7 mph)
🏴☠️The hardest hit ball of the year by a Pirate (112.9)
🏴☠️The 3 fastest sprint speeds of the year by a Pirate (31.5, 30.7, 30.3) pic.twitter.com/nScTK5mD4A
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) June 21, 2022
Cruz’s Impact in More Than One Way
Additionally, he has provided solid defense. In 65 innings, Cruz has recorded 17 assists and turned two double plays. Although defense was his Achilles heel in the minors, he has yet to record an error in the majors. In his first game of the 2022 season, he recorded the hardest throw by an infielder in the majors this year and showed that he can affect the game in more ways than one.
As the Pirates’ rebuild continues, Cruz will be critical in getting them back to the postseason. He is a rare talent offensively and should only improve in the field with more experience. He has already injected new life into the Pirates clubhouse and started his career with an RBI in six straight games. While the Pirates aren’t ready for playoff contention, the arrival of Cruz shows that an exciting era in Pirates baseball could be on the horizon.
Follow Jamie Gatlin On Twitter @JamieGatlin17
Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images