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Pirates 2021 Top Moments: Oneil Cruz debut provides hope

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Oneil Cruz collected a home run and three RBI in two MLB games

Cincinnati Reds v Pittsburgh Pirates
Oneil Cruz is the spark the Pirates need to move the rebuilt along
Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images

Hope can be described as a desire for something to happen and a truthful belief and trust something will result in what’s ultimately desired.

It can tear at your heart strings and become a roller coaster of emotions creating doubt and suspense.

Debuting on October 2, 2021, Oneil Cruz provided the first significant sign of life in the Pittsburgh Pirates rebuild along with Roansy Contreras only days earlier, with hope starting to build for the Bucs to compete once again.

Ranked as the Pirates’ No. 3 overall prospect and 52nd best in the game by MLB Pipeline, Cruz contains significant 30+ home run potential with his 60-grade power on a 20-80 scale.

Cruz, 23, played primarily in AA Altoona before being called up to AAA Indianapolis in September for six games.

The lefty batter battled through a right forearm strain in July but finished 62 games with the Curve, hitting 12 homers, driving in 40 runs, collecting 15 doubles and 5 triples while hitting .292 in 250 at-bats.

Being promoted for the final week of the AAA season was an opportunity for Cruz to showcase his skills on the next stage before Broadway, the Majors, but he exceeded all earthly expectations.

The 6’7” shortstop smashed five home runs and hit .524 in only 21 at bats and was especially clutch late in games.

Due to his fantastic and unreal week of dominance, Cruz earned his promotion and two chances to be in the 2021 Pirates lineup.

The promotion was met with surprise that Ben Cherington would promote a top prospect with only days remaining in the season, but the excitement outweighed any questions.

Cruz collected two hits against the Cincinnati Reds and also drove in a run, but his big-time play took center stage the day after.

Cruz mashed his first home run as a pro and displayed his easy power from the left side of the plate.

Strikeouts have been a concern his entire Minor League career and will be something to work on despite the game shifting towards more strikeouts, coming up empty on four of his nine MLB at-bats.

It’s imaginable that Cruz will stick around shortstop until he shows the Pirates he is unable to field the position, making a move likely to the outfield or possibly first base.

He should begin the 2022 campaign in AAA until June for more AAA work, also depending on when the season actually begins and MLB concludes the lockout.

Oneil Cruz provides a spark. A spark Pirates fans have been longing for since Andrew McCutchen was traded away after the 2017 season.

Cruz’s debut on October 2 helps set the table for the line of potential high-volume contributors the Pirates have waiting in the wings.


Time to vote on the final poll of the first round!

Poll

What’s the better 2021 moment?

This poll is closed

  • 81%
    Cruz debut
    (74 votes)
  • 18%
    Roansy Day
    (17 votes)
91 votes total Vote Now