There’s a reason Oneil Cruz gets so much hype as a top prospect, and leads to so many dreams about a non-existent ceiling.
Consider these results from his first three innings in the majors this year from Monday night’s debut.
3 innings into his 2022 debut, @Pirates' Oneil Cruz has registered:
🏴☠️The hardest throw by an infielder in @MLB this year (96.7 mph)
🏴☠️The hardest hit ball of the year by a Pirate (112.9)
🏴☠️The 3 fastest sprint speeds of the year by a Pirate (31.5, 30.7, 30.3) pic.twitter.com/nScTK5mD4A
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) June 21, 2022
Cruz immediately became one of the most impactful Pirates at the plate and on the bases. It didn’t take him long to register the hardest hit of the season, and his running was all-out, with the three fastest sprint speeds on the team. He also registered the hardest throw by an MLB infielder this year.
It's Oneil Cruz's first game of the season and he already recorded the hardest throw by an infielder this year at 96.7 MPH 🤯 pic.twitter.com/5XUlqHRjac
— MLB (@MLB) June 21, 2022
It’s no surprise that Cruz was so dialed in for such a big game. As a result, we got to see what makes him so special when he is dialed in. It’s all-out play that turns him into an absolute specimen on the field.
The fastest runner.
The most powerful hitter.
The hardest thrower.
That leaves a lot to dream about. The bat and the power will be the driving force for Cruz’s value, but if he can maintain value on the bases and on the field, you’re looking at the potential star everyone hopes he can become.
Of course, it is only one game. There’s a difference between Cruz being dialed in for his 2022 debut, and Cruz being similarly dialed in for a random Tuesday game in August. If he can do the latter consistently, then we’re looking at a young star.
For now, it’s fun to see an elite prospect come up to Pittsburgh and immediately show why he’s an elite prospect.
THIS GUY, BLIGH, IS GOOD
In his MLB debut, Bligh Madris went 3-for-4, including two RBIs as he picked up his first hit with the bases loaded.
Our guy Bligh with his first Major League hit! pic.twitter.com/LoHcefsmwL
— Pittsburgh Pirates (@Pirates) June 20, 2022
Madris definitely earned his trip to the majors this year. He started with an impressive spring that made him one of the final cuts from camp. He continued in Triple-A with a .304/.385/.519 line in 179 plate appearances. The numbers included a new career high in power, with a spike in line drives, and an increased ability to pull the ball.
Madris is in a bit of a different situation than the rest of the outfield prospects. While the other outfield prospects are mostly 23-24, Madris is in his age 26 season. That just means there’s less projection involved in his future game. Based on what we’ve seen this year, he might not need much projection.
It’s hard to say this early what Madris can be in the majors, since he’s obviously taken a significant step forward this year.
I don’t think it’s too early to say that he can be a legitimate MLB outfielder, with a shot at giving the Pirates a good lefty hitter off the bench.