Oneil Cruz is on fire.
The left-handed hitting shortstop prospect got the call to Triple-A to end the 2021 season, and has responded with some huge numbers. Most notably, he has five home runs in six games, with a 1.941 OPS.
Cruz is one of the top prospects in the system, and should be up in the majors at some point in 2022. His rapid start in Triple-A had Danny Demilio calling for him to join the Pirates for the final weekend in an article that was written between home runs four and five.
Let’s take a look at each of the home runs from Cruz so far.
Things we could get used to seeing:
— Indianapolis Indians (@indyindians) September 23, 2021
The first Triple-A home run from Cruz came off lefty starter Marcelo Martinz, who has a 5.11 ERA in 112.2 innings in Triple-A this year. The impressive thing is that Cruz took an inside pitch the other way, displaying his strength.
Two innings, two home runs.
This time Oneil Cruz launches one out of the park! 💪 pic.twitter.com/EmPp9Zw7kr
— Indianapolis Indians (@indyindians) September 24, 2021
The next homer comes against Jake Kalish, who has a 6.94 ERA in 96 innings this year in Triple-A. Cruz absolutely destroys the offering from another lefty.
Oneil Cruz starting things off strong for Indy with a leadoff homer! 💣 pic.twitter.com/C3ss7tJPTW
— Indianapolis Indians (@indyindians) September 26, 2021
Here’s another home run off a lefty. This was Angel Zerpa’s first start in Triple-A, and Cruz was partially responsible for ruining his day, limiting him to 1.1 innings. Prior to this, Zerpa had a 5.96 ERA in 13 starts in Double-A. The Royals called him up today to the majors.
He knew it. We knew it. The crowd knew it.
— Indianapolis Indians (@indyindians) September 30, 2021
Luke Barker has the best results of the pitchers profiled thus far, with a 2.39 ERA in 52 relief appearances in Triple-A this year. He tries to pitch away, but Cruz reached his long arms out and powered the ball for a mammoth homer.
— Indianapolis Indians (@indyindians) October 1, 2021
The latest home run might be the most impressive of the bunch. Aside from the ridiculous 116 MPH exit velocity, and aside from this being the fourth lefty Cruz has homered off of in Triple-A, the pitcher Ethan Small is a legit prospect. He was the Brewers’ first round pick in 2019, and has a 1.98 ERA in 18 starts this year in Triple-A. He’s got a funky delivery, with 92 strikeouts in 77.1 innings. Cruz takes a middle-away pitch to deep center field for the home run.
Cruz is on the 40-man roster, and has one option year remaining in 2022. He will be up at some point next season. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to get him to the majors for a few games this year while he’s on a hot streak.
If anything, it would be a nice reward for Pirates fans who have suffered through this dreadful season.
Along with being a reward for Cruz for having such a great year in Altoona, and finishing strong in Indianapolis.