Pirates shortstop Oneil Cruz showcases all his skills in impressive season debut


Pirates shortstop Oneil Cruz is going to be one of the most exciting players in baseball. In fact, that might have already happened on Monday night in his 2022 MLB debut against the Cubs. It was a 12-1 victory for the Pirates and all of Cruz’s talents were on full display. 

Cruz is a 6-foot-7 shortstop who can fly around the basepaths, has a cannon for an arm and displays smooth and easy power from the left side. 

Let’s start with his arm. Here’s a groundout. The zip of the ball coming off his hand is almost comical. In fact, the throw was almost too fast for the camera operator.

As noted in the tweet, that’s the fastest ball thrown by an infielder all season. It was Cruz’s first throw of the season. 

In the third inning, he flashed his skills with the bat. Here’s a rocket double that cleared the bases: 

He later would single home another run. He was 2 for 5 with a double, four RBI and two runs. Not a bad season debut. 

It was a Statcast showcase. We already pointed out he has the hardest infielder throw of the season. He also hit the hardest ball any Pirates player has hit all season (the 112.9 miles per hour double above) and had the three highest sprint speeds recorded this season by a Pirates player (via MLB Pipeline). 

All this from the tallest regular shortstop — assuming he stays put — in MLB history. 

This wasn’t Cruz’s MLB debut. He played the final two games last season, going 3 for 9 with a home run, three RBI and two runs. He was sent to the minors to start the season and remained there until his callup for Monday’s game. To this point, the Pirates had been one of the worst teams in baseball in terms of shortstop production. That’ll change now with Cruz in there. 

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