Well, the debate on who will start for the Pirates at shortstop is over. Oneil Cruz will not crack the Opening Day roster for the Pirates as the team announced that he has been optioned to Triple-A. This surely is disappointing news for plenty of Pirates fans who wanted to see Cruz starting at shortstop when the Pirates break camp.
Instead, it looks like Kevin Newman will again be the Bucs shortstop, at least until Cruz is ready to be brought back up to the big leagues. This hardly comes as a surprise and was expected to be the case, even if some feel differently.
Cruz had a good spring, blasting a pair of homeruns and making a lot of hard contact at the plate. Defensively, Cruz probably still has some things to work on, which is part of the reason the Pirates made their decision. Pittsburgh has experimented with him in the outfield, appearing in left field twice during spring. The Pirates will give Cruz plenty of opportunity at shortstop, but will get him some more reps in the outfield in Indianapolis.
It shouldn’t be all too long before Cruz rejoins the team in Pittsburgh. There are several factors to take into consideration here including the super two cutoff which would give the Pirates an extra year of club control over the 23-year-old. By waiting a few weeks into the season, Cruz will go through arbitration three years as opposed to four.
Cruz played in two games for the Pirates to end the 2021 regular season, collecting three hits including his first career homer in his final at-bat of the year.
The 6-foot-7 Cruz is widely considered the Pirates top prospect. He played in 62 games with Double-A Altoona before a late-season promotion to Indianapolis for six games. In 68 combined minor league games, Cruz posted a .970 OPS with 16 doubles, five triples, 17 home runs and 19 steals.
The club also announced that left-handed pitcher Cam Alldred and right-hander Beau Sulser were reassigned to minor league camp as the club continues to trim their spring roster.