Oneil Cruz was already looking like a prospect on the upswing after a rough start to 2019. Now, that upswing will take him one step closer to the Major Leagues.
The Pirates have promoted MLB.com's No. 62 overall prospect from Class A Advanced Bradenton to Double-A Altoona, the club announced. Cruz was officially added to the Curve roster prior to Tuesday's doubleheader against Trenton and will make his debut in the first contest, the resumption of a suspended game from May 30.
The 20-year-old shortstop hit .301/.345/.515 with seven homers and seven stolen bases over 35 games in the Florida State League.
Video: Marauders' Cruz crushes two-run dinger to right
After getting off to a slow start in the season's first month, Cruz fractured his right foot and was placed on the injured list on April 28. He didn't return to the Marauders lineup until June 30, following a three-game rehab stint in the Gulf Coast League. Since then, the left-handed slugger had been one of the hottest hitters in the FSL. His six homers, 56 total bases and .596 slugging percentage over 24 games were all tops in Class A Advanced since his return, while his .330 average and .960 OPS over the same span placed second.
2019 MiLB include
This move -- the first in-season promotion of Cruz's career -- comes almost two years to the day after he was traded from the Dodgers to the Bucs at the 2017 Trade Deadline in a deal that sent left-hander Tony Watson to Los Angeles. Since then, Cruz has risen in the prospect rankings because of his plus power potential and his plus-plus arm. He also earns above-average grades for his surprising speed, given his size at 6-foot-6. It's that size that makes many doubt the Dominican Republic native can stick at shortstop long-term, but all 38 of his defensive starts have come there in 2019. He last played third base in 2017 for Class A clubs Great Lakes and West Virginia, and it's possible he could eventually move to a corner outfield spot the higher he climbs.
At No. 3, Cruz becomes the highest-ranked Pirates prospect on the Altoona roster, joining No. 11 Jared Oliva, No. 13 Cody Bolton and No. 29 Blake Cederlind. Altoona is 18-19 in the second half of the Eastern League season, 9 1/2 games behind both Bowie and Erie in the Western Division.