The Pittsburgh Pirates are not expected to make too much noise in 2023.
Even after signing Andrew McCutchen, Carlos Santana, and Rich Hill, the team is still in a rebuilding phase and is not expected to go far.
But one player in particular who could be a major key to the development of the Pirates is young shortstop Oneil Cruz.
The 24-year-old made his much-anticipated MLB debut in 2022 and put together a solid first season in a Pirates uniform.
The former top prospect hit .233 with 17 home runs, 54 RBI, and a .744 OPS last season.
Cruz has certainly turned some heads in Pittsburgh, including that of his manager Derek Shelton, who discussed what the young star brings to the table.
.@Pirates manager Derek Shelton shares his excitement for Oneil Cruz's potential after hitting for a .914 OPS over his last 28 games in '22.#SpringTraining | #MLBNHotStove pic.twitter.com/MoXdl9QxTt
— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) February 28, 2023
Shelton first discussed how Cruz is a welcome presence for the team.
He sees his star shortstop as somebody who enjoys playing baseball and likes to have fun while he’s working on his craft, but that he also works incredibly hard and takes his craft very seriously.
Over his last 28 games in 2022, Cruz hit for a .914 OPS.
Shelton says that when Cruz swings at strikes, he can be a threat in the batter’s box and that this is something that the Pirates have identified as they assess his talent.
Cruz hits the ball hard and is a power threat at the plate.
Shelton also discussed the metrics that are used to measure a player’s skillset and how they have made it easier for the team to assess what Cruz is capable of.
The Bucs manager believes that Cruz is a special player and that he’s only getting better.NEXT: Photo Shows Andrew McCutchen Catching Up With Old Friends