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Jun, 2022

Pirates Shortstop Impresses in Call Up to Majors

Oneil Cruz gave Pittsburgh a glimpse into the future Monday night when he made his first start for the Bucs in 2022, rewriting the Pirates record book in the process.


A 96.7 MPH fastball is a speed that only certain gifted pitchers can reach. Oneil Cruz threw a ball that hard last night from shortstop. Not only did he do that, he also hit a ball 112.9 MPH to the left center gap. To put the icing on the cake, Cruz cruised on the basepaths, recording a top speed of 31.5 feet/second. All three of these numbers are the highest marks by a Pittsburgh player since the MLB Statcast era began in 2015.


He is a Pony alum from the Dominican Republic and the son of former minor league player, Rafael Cruz. He was named Oneil after his dad’s favorite player, and Yankee great, Paul O’Neill.


Originally signed by the Dodgers as an international free agent in 2015, Cruz was sent to the Pirates in 2017 via the Tony Watson trade. He soared through the minors and had an incredible 2021 campaign for Double-A Altoona and Triple-A Indianapolis, batting a combined .310 with 17 home runs and 19 stolen bases. This performance led to his MLB debut with the Pirates on October 2, 2021. In the two games Cruz played with the Buccos, he recorded three hits in nine at bats, including a homer. He started this season in Indianapolis again, batting .232 with nine homers, 35 RBI, and 11 stolen bases in 55 games. These impressive statistics were enough for the second call-up of his career.


The 6-foot-7 phenom had plenty to celebrate besides just shattering records as the Bucs stomped the Cubs 12-1. He had four of the twelve RBI on two hits, including a three run double. With the stellar performance by the rookie, look for his stay in Pittsburgh to last a significant time.


Watch Oneil Cruz as he earns the start for the Pirates again tonight as they take on the Cubs at 7:05pm at PNC Park.


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