Cruz was named to the Pirates' 60-man player pool Sunday. Cruz hit .217 with one homer and four RBI in 23 at-bats during February and March, and an 11:1 K:BB shows he likely needs more time in the minors. The 6-foot-7 infielder slashed .298/.356/.475 with eight homers and 11 steals in 265 at-bats split between three minor-league levels in 2019. He remains one of the organization's brightest offensive prospects, but it will take a number of injuries for him to garner playing time in Pittsburgh before 2021.
Cruz was optioned to Double-A Altoona on Monday, Adam Berry of MLB.com reports. Cruz played 35 games for Altoona last season, homering once and stealing three bases while hitting .269/.346/.412. Despite his unusual size for a shortstop (6-foot-7), the Pirates reportedly have no imminent plans for him to change positions.
Cruz, who went 1-for-3 with a run scored Wednesday, is batting .235 in 17 Grapefruit-League at-bats. The 6-foot-7 shortstop hasn't looked out of place defensively thus far, even if he's expected to eventually move to another position. Cruz showed off a glimpse of his power potential with a tape-measure homer Sunday, stroking a prodigious shot over the center field wall. He's expected to start the season at Double-A and has done nothing to diminish his prospect tag in spring training, though a 0:7 BB:K throws up a hint of caution in his timeline.
Cruz, who saw his first action at the Double-A level in 2019, has received his first invitation to major-league spring training, DK Pittsburgh Sports reports. "My goal is to make it to the big leagues this year," Cruz said. "I want to do everything possible to make it to the big leagues this year. For me, there's nothing impossible." The 21-year-old prospect is an oddity because of his size -- he stands 6-foot-7 -- and the position he currently plays, shortstop. While some projections have Cruz delivering monster power, he's hit just 32 home runs over his last three seasons. Since there are few size comparisons for Cruz, predicting his path may prove difficult. After returning from an early-season foot fracture in 2019, he hit well in High-A (.301/.345/.515) before jumping to Double-A (.269/.346/.412) for the final month. He then struggled in the Arizona Fall League, batting .190 with a 7:21 BB:K mark in 42 at-bats. Cruz is one of Pittsburgh's brightest prospects and it will be interesting to see how the team's new management handles his progression.
Cruz was added to the Pirates' 40-man roster Wednesday. Cruz is one of the Pirates' top prospects, so it's no surprise to see the team protect him from the Rule 5 draft. The 21-year-old split 2019 between High-A and Double-A, posting a .298/.356/.475 slash line.