Owner of a 6-foot-7 frame and incredible athleticism, he can hit the ball extremely hard, run very fast, and make insanely hard throws to first base from the shortstop position.
For a talent evaluator, that’s the perfect skillset for a young prospect.
It took just 54 games for him to break the record for hardest hit ball in the Statcast era and fastest throw by an infielder.
He completed the first feat on Wednesday against the Atlanta Braves: he hit the ball so hard that it bounced off the wall and was just a single.
The other one, the 97.8 mph throw to first base, was done earlier in the season.
“Oneil Cruz now has the hardest hit ball (122.4 MPH) and fastest throw by an infielder (97.8) during the Statcast era. He’s played 54 career games,” Talkin’ Baseball tweeted.
Oneil Cruz now has the hardest hit ball (122.4 MPH) and fastest throw by an infielder (97.8) during the Statcast era. He's played 54 career games pic.twitter.com/gswwtVpIJY
— Talkin’ Baseball (@TalkinBaseball_) August 24, 2022
A Toolsy, But Raw Player
That’s the best representation of who Cruz is at this point of his career, in his rookie season and at 23 years old: a raw player, with some of the loudest tools on the planet.
It means that while Cruz is far from a finished product, his ceiling is extraordinarily high.
His floor, however, is still rather low.
He entered today’s game slashing .198/.249/.401, and while he has 10 home runs and six stolen bases, he is striking out in 38.3 percent of his at-bats in the bigs.
He needs to make consistent contact to maximize his vast potential, but he is not at that stage yet.
Progress will come with time and more at-bats against the best pitchers in the world, but even if Cruz realizes only half of his potential, he can be an everyday player with some All-Star appearances.
If he can touch his ceiling, however, we are talking about a potential Hall of Famer, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves and just enjoy what he is currently doing on the field, hoping he can improve as a hitter.