The Pittsburgh Pirates have a special player on their roster.
After spending several weeks in the minor leagues, Oneil Cruz was called up before Monday’s game against the Chicago Cubs and already left his mark.
It was not his MLB debut, though: that happened in September 2021, and he hit a long homer and drove in three runs in just nine plate appearances back then.
Yesterday, he definitely left his mark: he hit a ball at 112.9 mph, he threw one at 96 mph from shortstop, and he posted the three fastest sprint speeds of the year by a Pirate (31.5, 30.7, 30.3 ft/s).
Yet, the first thing that jumps to mind by looking at him is his obvious size: let’s just say he is not exactly small.
“Amazing power, speed, and arm strength…and… the tallest player ever to start an MLB game at SS! This dude is SIX FOOT SEVEN!,” Codify Baseball tweeted, in awe like all of us.
Amazing power, speed, and arm strength…and…
the tallest player ever to start an MLB game at SS!
This dude is SIX FOOT SEVEN! 🤯 https://t.co/FN2oOTfVdL
— Codify (@CodifyBaseball) June 21, 2022
A Physical Specimen
How can someone that big and strong run that fast?
He is truly a physical specimen.
If Cruz can stay out of bad habits at the plate and lift the ball consistently, he may be a .280 hitter with 40 home run potential.
It’s not as easy as it sounds: he does hit the ball incredibly hard, but tends to swing at less-than-ideal pitches on occasion.
His strikeout rate is not particularly high (it was 22.7 percent in Triple-A this year, not too bad), but his overall line wasn’t that impressive either: he hit .232/.336/.422 with nine homers and 11 stolen bases.
That would be his floor, but his ceiling is much, much higher.
Will the Pirates’ mediocre player development staff be able to help him reach his potential?