What the Pirates fans and practically all the fans in the Dominican Republic have been asking for so much is finally a reality. Oneil Cruz is already in the Major Leagues. And if expectations are met, this time it will be definitive.
The Dominican super prospect was called up by Pittsburgh this Monday to the Big Show. He had a resounding premiere. And so he announced that he may be about to start a whole new era in his organization.
It is enough, in fact, to take a look at the networks to see the impact that this 23-year-old Quisqueyan can have on his currency.
Cruz is one of the most notable young talents in baseball. All the scouts say it. He is the number one buccaneer in the MLB Pipeline rankings and in the Baseball America count. He is a pillar on which they hope to build a truly competitive team at PNC Park.
“This boy is unreal,” assured his teammate Bligh Madris, who accompanied him from the Minor Leagues on this trip to the Big Top.
And Madris may not be wrong. There are the first tests.
Cruz debuted with two hits in five at-bats. One of his hits, a double, drove in three runs. He added four trailers in total and showed off with the glove and with his legs.
“He has tools that appear once every 100 years,” Madris said, quoted by MLB.com. “He’s special, to say the least. He can do things with the bat. He can get some pitches out of the ballpark that many would hopefully get out of the infield. It’s amazing to see what he’s capable of.”
MLB Pipeline, the official site of Major League Baseball dedicated to prospect analysis, summed it up with three overwhelming facts, all from this Monday’s game.
After just three innings of his 2022 debut, the Pirates’ Oneil Cruz has recorded:
- The most powerful shot by an infielder this year in the entire MLB (96.7 miles per hour).
- The hardest-hit ball this year by someone on the Pirates (112.9 MPH).
- The three fastest sprints for a Pirates player this year (31.5, 30.7 and 30.3 MPH).”
All those records and the match wasn’t even halfway through.
Cruz made an impact as soon as he got to the Big Show. That was at the end of 2021, for only two games and as a reward for its projection on farms.
Already then he became the tallest shortstop in the history of major baseball, with 2.01 meters tall (no less than 6 feet 7 inches).
But the Dominican is much more than an above-average physique.
“He’s someone who can impact the game in a lot of different ways, we saw that tonight,” manager Derek Shelton said, speaking to The Associated Press.
That cannon of an arm is just one of the five tools he wields:
He is just taking his first steps and is already doing things that only the greats have done.
ESPN.com posted this jaw-dropping detail about Cruz’s Big Show debut: Counting his two 2021 games, added seven RBIs in his first three games up. How many compocortos have done that in history? Well, only three: the immortal Paul Molitor, the stellar Trevor Story and now him.
“Records are there to be broken,” commented the Quisqueyan after the clash, through a translator.
Someone in Los Angeles must be looking at the floor, right now. Because Cruz originally signed with the Dodgers and should have made the jump at Chavez Ravine, not Three Rivers. But in 2017 he was sent to Pittsburgh along with his compatriot Ángel Germán! by pitcher Tony Watson, now out of action.
Now he is the rising star and the most visible face of a Pirates who hope to be completing their restructuring, to be competitive from 2023.
His face, in fact, is the new avatar on the Twitter account of that currency.
The fans expected to have him in the City of Steel from Opening Day. But the team preferred to keep him in Triple A for a few more weeks, despite the fact that he showed in Spring Training that he was ready to stay.
That wait is over. Cruz is in the MLB and has been the protagonist since his first challenge, amid applause, interviews and enormous expectations. Perhaps it is an exaggeration to say that someone like this only appears every 100 years. But if all that glitters is true, a golden era may be beginning in Pittsburgh, much to the joy of Hispanic American baseball.