OMAR CRUZ, LEFT HANDED PITCHER
|Born: January 26, 1999
Signed: Int’l Free Agent, 2017 (Padres)
How Acquired: Trade (with Padres for Joe Musgrove)
WTM’s PLAYER PROFILE
|Cruz is a lefty who throws in the low-90s. His secondary pitches draw differing evaluations: his curve is either a plus pitch (Baseball America) or not useful at all (FanGraphs), and his change is either a plus pitch (FG) or one that might become average (BA). He’s recorded very high K rates, mainly because of good command, and maybe also because of a very fidgety motion. So far, he’s been more effective against right-handed than left-handed hitters. San Diego employed him as a starter. The Padres traded him to the Pirates in the Joe Musgrove trade.
Cruz started off in rookie ball, where he made five starts. He moved up to the short season Northwest League and made five more, plus one relief appearance. He was very hard to hit at both levels, but had some control problems at the higher level. What trouble he had there mostly came in the one relief appearance, when he allowed four runs in one inning. In the starts he gave up just one run in 21.1 IP.
The Padres moved Cruz up to full season ball after he made two more starts in the Northwest League. He continued to miss a lot of bats and didn’t walk many.
Cruz didn’t pitch in the pandemic season. After the Padres traded away a number of prospects, Baseball America would have ranked him 23rd in their system had the Pirates not acquired him.
The Pirates sent Cruz to Greensboro to start the season. He had some quirky starts there. In his first one, he allowed one hit but four runs. In his second, he threw four hitless innings with ten strikeouts. Overall he pitched very well for the Grasshoppers despite a lot of walks, as opponents batted just .168 against him thanks to a .220 BABIP. He also had a high K rate. The Pirates moved him up to Altoona, where he made 14 starts. Other than struggling some in July, he got good results for the Curve, too. In Altoona, he walked and struck out a lot fewer, while opponents batted .260 against him. He had no platoon split. Cruz threw mostly in the high-80s in 2021 and the analytics didn’t buy the good ERAs; he had xFIPs of 4.76 at Greensboro and 5.14 at Altoona.
Cruz had a rough season. It started well enough. The Pirates tried him in the bullpen and, over his first four outings, he had a 1.46 ERA, with 20 strikeouts in 12.1 IP. Naturally, the Pirates moved him back to the rotation and, in his first five starts, he had an ERA of 8.66. Cruz pitched strictly in relief the rest of the way, although he missed July and August with an unknown injury. He returned for six outings starting in late August.
Cruz went in the wrong direction in 2023. He has one more year with the Pirates before minor league free agency.
|2023: Minor League Salary|
|Signing Bonus: N/A
MiLB Debut: 2018
MLB Debut: N/A
MiLB FA Eligible: 2023
MLB FA Eligible: N/A
Rule 5 Eligible: 2021
Added to 40-Man: N/A
Options Remaining: 3
MLB Service Time: 0.000
|July 3, 2017: Signed by the San Diego Padres as an international free agent.
January 18, 2021: Traded by the San Diego Padres with Hudson Head, Drake Fellows and David Bednar to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Joe Musgrove in a three-team deal; Endy Rodriguez sent from the New York Mets to the Pittsburgh Pirates and Joey Lucchesi sent from the San Diego Padres to the New York Mets.