How to appreciate Oneil Cruz, the most fun and unique player in MLB

  • ESPN MLB Insider
  • Kiley McDaniel covers MLB prospects, the MLB Draft and more, including trades and free agency.
  • Has worked for four MLB teams.

Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop Oneil Cruz has become a human push alert, setting records for exit velocity at the plate, velocity throwing a ball across the infield, and sprint speed. Not to mention he’s among the tallest position players to do basically anything on a baseball field — and he’s doing all of this during his rookie season.

As I said when ranking him as the No. 13 prospect in all of baseball during my winter Top 100, Cruz is the kind of singular talent with a scouting report that makes us rethink what the word unique really means.

In case you aren’t familiar with him — and brace yourselves if you’re new here — Cruz is a 6-foot-7, lefty-hitting shortstop with the most raw power in the entire league, in addition to top-tier speed and league-leading arm strength. It’s like someone went a little too wild using the create-a-player feature on a video game.

Cruz’s surface numbers as a rookie are just OK, hovering around league-average offensively — but that’s flattening the most fun player in baseball into an OPS number. Let me take you on a guided tour of the most delightful talent in our game.

Raw power

In the Top 100, I graded Cruz’s raw power as a present 80 (the top number in the scale), so you should be expecting Aaron Judge/Giancarlo Stanton/Shohei Ohtani-level exit velocities immediately,

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