He is athletically superior to just about everyone else in the league.
He is freakishly strong, generating exit velocities that approach 120 mph.
Cruz is also incredibly fast, and watching him make the turn from second to third base is a show on its own.
And his throwing arm is unbelievable: he throws harder than most pitchers!
On Thursday, he established the new record for hardest infield throw, per Statcast.
“Oneil Cruz with the fastest throw (97.8 mph) recorded by an infielder in the Statcast era!!!” the Pirates tweeted.
Oneil Cruz with the fastest throw (97.8 mph) recorded by an infielder in the Statcast era!!! pic.twitter.com/pSIdnD78tT
— Pittsburgh Pirates (@Pirates) July 14, 2022
It happened in a game between the Pirates and the Miami Marlins.
The Marlins hit a slow roller to shortstop, and the promising Cruz fielded the ball and delivered an incredible 97.8 mph throw.
One has to imagine Michael Chavis‘ mitt should be burning right now.
Cruz Has Some Cool Tools
The important thing is that the out was completed.
The cool thing, however, is that the throw actually broke a record and Cruz looked very, very cool doing it.
You can even see how effortless the throw was, which is actually more impressive and makes one wonder how fast he could throw if he put all his strength on it.
With a .210/.244/.444 line and four home runs in 86 plate appearances, Cruz has struggled somewhat in his first extended exposure to major league pitching.
But he will need lots of at-bats before reaching his ceiling.
The great Dusty Baker once explained that tall players often take longer to find their rhythm at the plate.
Add this to the normal development curve of a young prospect, and the conclusion is that the Pirates need to be patient with Cruz as a hitter.
He could hit 30 or even 40 homers at peak with his natural talent, but it may take a while.