Oneil Cruz

23-Year-Old ShortstopSS
Pittsburgh Pirates AAA
2022 Fantasy Outlook
Rarely has a 38 plate-appearance sample shifted the perceived value of a player to the extent we've seen with Cruz. He had a very strong run at Double-A last season, hitting .292/.346/.536 with 12 home runs, 18 steals, a 23.4 K% and 7.3 BB% in 62 games. Cruz was then rewarded with a six-game run at Triple-A followed by two games in the majors. He hit .466 with six home runs, nine strikeouts and eight walks in those eight games and propelled himself into the top 300 of early NFBC ADP in the process. His most bankable fantasy-relevant tool is 70-grade raw power that he utilizes to all fields. Cruz's lanky 6-foot-7 frame enables him to leverage the ball in a manner matched by few sluggers in the history of the game. His long levers will always lead to plenty of strikeouts, but he is not stiff at the plate and he has the flexibility to golf out balls below his knees for home runs. Cruz's physical dimensions make it impossible to confidently project his hit tool, and the massive gap in pitching quality at Triple-A and the majors can't be overstated. While his run at Triple-A and the majors can't be thrown out completely, his Double-A performance is a more relevant data point. Pittsburgh figures to give him the keys at shortstop early this season and while his plus-plus raw power and plus speed give him a very high power/speed ceiling, his batting average as a rookie could be anywhere from the .181 Jarred Kelenic logged to something above .250. Read Past Outlooks
RANKSFrom Preseason
$Signed a one-year contract with the Pirates in March of 2022.
Primarily playing shorstop
SSPittsburgh Pirates  AAA
April 22, 2022
Cruz has started 10 games at shortstop as opposed to only one in left field with Triple-A Indianapolis to begin the season.
ANALYSIS
When the Pirates optioned Cruz to the minors to start the season, part of the stated reason was to get him reps in the outfield. While he did start one of his first five games in left field, Cruz has played exclusively at shortstop since. It's unclear what that may mean for his defensive home in the long term, but it suggests that he will play in the infield upon his promotion to the majors this season. It's also uncertain when Cruz may return to Pittsburgh, as he has hit only .175/.283/.275 across 46 plate appearances with Indianapolis.
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Batting Stats
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2021
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Left/Right Batting Splits
Since 2020
 
 
-100%
OPS vs RHP
2022
No Stats
2021
 
 
-100%
OPS vs RHP
2020
No Stats
OPS PA R HR RBI SB AVG OBP SLG
Since 2020vs Left .000 4 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000
Since 2020vs Right 1.800 5 2 1 3 0 .600 .600 1.200
2022vs Left 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2022vs Right 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2021vs Left .000 4 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000
2021vs Right 1.800 5 2 1 3 0 .600 .600 1.200
2020vs Left 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2020vs Right 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
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Home/Away Batting Splits
Since 2020
 
 
-100%
OPS at Home
2022
No Stats
2021
 
 
-100%
OPS at Home
2020
No Stats
OPS PA R HR RBI SB AVG OBP SLG
Since 2020Home 1.000 9 2 1 3 0 .333 .333 .667
Since 2020Away 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2022Home 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2022Away 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2021Home 1.000 9 2 1 3 0 .333 .333 .667
2021Away 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2020Home 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2020Away 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
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Advanced Batting Stats
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Defensive Stats
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Past Fantasy Outlooks
2021
2020
2019
After spending the summer at the alternate training site, Cruz was arrested in the Dominican Republic after a car he was driving struck a motorcycle in an accident with three fatalities. This is a delicate subject, and Cruz, who was out past the country's COVID-19 curfew, is at best guilty of poor decision making. He went on to play winter ball and the team has said he should be a full participant in spring training. For those who weigh maximum exit velocity strongly, Cruz's offensive ceiling is up there with any prospect. However, at 6-foot-7, there will be holes in his swing for MLB pitchers to exploit. He has played shortstop so far, but right field seems like the best long-term fit. Cruz is also a plus runner, but his speed figures to trend down in the coming years. For a player who should spend most of his age-22 season at Triple-A, there is still a huge gap between Cruz's floor and ceiling.
Likely the tallest Double-A shortstop ever, the 6-foot-7 Cruz should be commended for not having to move off the position yet, but that still feels like an inevitability. His bat will profile anywhere if he reaches his ceiling. Unsurprisingly, given his size, he could develop 70-grade power. The big question is whether he will make enough contact against MLB pitchers to get to that power with any consistency. Since 1980, only six hitters 6-foot-6 or taller have had sustained success, so betting against Cruz has its merits. He had a 28.5 K% in 84 games at High-A, Double-A and the Arizona Fall League (he missed two months with a broken foot) but didn't turn 21 until October. Cruz is an excellent athlete and could steal 10-15 bases early in his career. We probably won't know for a couple years if his hit tool will play in the majors, but he could have an Aaron Judge-esque offensive profile if it all clicks.
While Cruz may eventually change positions, the fact remains he was a full-time shortstop in a repeat of Low-A, despite standing 6-foot-6 (roughly 180 pounds). There is no precedent for a player his size sticking up the middle, so let's assume he will move to a corner -- his 80-grade arm would fit nicely at third base or in right field. Despite repeating the level, Cruz was one of the youngest players in the Sally League, where his 134 wRC+ ranked sixth and his .201 ISO ranked 10th. His 22.6 K% was impressive, and his 50-grade speed led to 11 steals on 16 attempts. Of players who debuted in 1980 or later, Richie Sexson, Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Corey Hart, Adam Dunn and Darryl Strawberry are the only position players 6-foot-6 or taller who have had prolonged success. Cruz has the same carrying tool (huge raw power) as those players and could join that group if he makes enough contact, but it's important to note how rare it would be.
More Fantasy News
Getting work in outfield
SSPittsburgh Pirates  AAA
April 10, 2022
Cruz started in left field for Triple-A Indianapolis on Sunday, Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports.
ANALYSIS
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Sent to Triple-A
SSPittsburgh Pirates  AAA
March 29, 2022
The Pirates optioned Cruz to Triple-A Indianapolis on Tuesday.
ANALYSIS
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Could still open at Triple-A
SSPittsburgh Pirates  AAA
March 22, 2022
Despite his hot start this spring, Cruz may still open the year at Triple-A, according to the Associated Press. "There's still development to be had there," manager Derek Shelton said. "Oneil is going to have an impact on our club this year at some point. When that is, I don't think any of us know."
ANALYSIS
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Clocks first home run
SSPittsburgh Pirates  AAA
October 3, 2021
Cruz went 1-for-4 with a two-run homer in Sunday's 6-3 loss to the Reds.
ANALYSIS
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Picks up pair of hits in debut
SSPittsburgh Pirates  AAA
October 2, 2021
Cruz went 2-for-5 with two singles, an RBI and a run scored in Saturday's 8-6 win over the Reds.
ANALYSIS
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