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Sunday, November 27, 2022

Omar Cruz Finding Swing And Miss To Game Out Of Bullpen

Some players work better out of the bullpen as a reliever. That isn’t a knock on them, but sometimes their overall skill set is better suit in shorter stints, or as a change of pace to the starter.

There may be something to that when talking about Omar Cruz. The lefty, acquired in the Joe Musgrove trade, is on his second tour with the Altoona Curve after spending the majority of 2021 with the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Double-A affiliate.

In that time last year, Cruz wasn’t really known for his ability to strike batters out. In 70 2/3 innings with the Curve in 2021, Cruz struck out just 60 hitters.

Now with one of the most stacked pitching staffs in the minors, Cruz has been regulated in coming out of the bullpen for both of his appearances this year. While he has still been relied on for multiple innings, Cruz has been missing far more bats this year than he did previously.

Cruz came on in relief of Mike Burrows this past Friday and struck out seven batters in four innings pitched, earning the win in the process.

The 23-year-old lefty generated 14 swing and misses among his 60 pitches (23%), 42 of which were for strikes (33.3%).

Despite not having an overpowering fastball, Cruz was able to get misses with it, thanks largely to the success of his curve and changeup.

Adding into his first appearance of the season, he has a total of 25 swing and miss pitches on just 117 pitches thrown. He has struck out 44% of the batters he has faced, and while that number seems widely unsustainable, his work in shorter stints could limit how much it comes back down to Earth.

Cruz did most of his damage within the first two innings of his outing on Friday, striking out the first four batters he faced, as well as five of the first six. In the second half of his appearance, Cruz only struck out two, walked one and allowed a hit.

While it would have probably been nice to have Cruz remain in the rotation, especially with the lack of depth in the system when it comes to left-handed pitching, we’ve seen the value of a multi-inning guy out the bullpen this season with the Pirates in Wil Crowe.

Cruz is certainly showing the potential to be a multi-inning kind of guy with his work early on in the year. How he continues to pitch out of this role will be something interesting to watch as the season continues to unfold.

THIS WEEK ON PIRATES PROSPECTS

Williams: The Pirates Are Building a Window

Mason Martin’s Power is Just a Step Away From Pittsburgh

Omar Cruz Finding Swing And Miss To Game Out Of Bullpen

Highlights from the Pirates Pitchers on the Extended Spring Training Roster

Sammy Siani Off to a Hot Start, Fueled By Elite Swing Decisions

Pirates Starter Luis Peralta Could Follow His Brother’s Footsteps to the Majors

Andres Alvarez: Don’t Overlook the Underdog

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Anthony began writing over 10 years ago, starting a personal blog to cover the 2011 MLB draft, where the Pirates selected first overall. After bouncing around many websites covering hockey, he refocused his attention to baseball, his first love when it comes to sports. He eventually found himself here at Pirates Prospects in late 2021, where he covers the team’s four full season minor league affiliates.

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