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Dingers and Defense: Celebrating Oneil Cruz’s Long-Awaited 2022 Season Debut

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Pirates fans had a Father’s Day to remember as the club announced they’d called up shortstop Oneil Cruz. The No. 22 prospect in baseball and a towering left-handed batter, Cruz has the strength to pepper the Allegheny with fly balls.

Perhaps Cruz’s most intriguing tool is his wingspan—even at 6-foot-7, he’s made a habit of golfing pitches just inches off the ground into home runs. His combination of effortless power and ability to turn around balls that should be unhittable makes him a difficult out. He’s striking out at a 22.7% clip, which is better than one might expect for a player of his height: it’s difficult to get balls past him.

The Pirates aren’t sold on his ability to play shortstop: he’s spent time at first base and the outfield as well with Indianapolis. 

No matter where he is on the diamond, though, Cruz’s reach, deceptive speed and arm strength give him the opportunity to make plays that are impossible for other fielders. 

Cruz figures to be a huge part of the rebuilding Pirates’ youth movement as he joins budding stars like Ke’Bryan Hayes and Roansy Contreras in Pittsburgh.

So far, so good. In his first game this season, Cruz went 2 for 5 with a double, four RBIs and broke various statcast records versus the Chicago Cubs.

Here are some dingers (and a bit of defense) to help fans celebrate Cruz’s successful first Major League appearance of 2022.

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