Oneil Cruz...Received his first name from his father’s baseball idol, former big leaguer Paul O’Neill...His older brother, Homer, is a member of the Chicago White Sox minor league system...His younger brother, Rafael Jr., was eligible to sign during last summer’s international signing period...His father, Rafael, played three seasons in the minors for the Texas Rangers in the mid-80s.
Entered season ranked by Baseball America as Pittsburgh’s No. 3 prospect...Also listed as the “Best Power Hitter,” the “Best Athlete” and as having the “Best Infield Arm” in the system...Spent season at the Pirates alternate training site in Altoona...Played winter ball in the Dominican Republic with the Gigantes del Cibao and hit .245 (12-for-49) with one double, two triples and one RBI in 14 games.
Entered season ranked as Pittsburgh's third-best prospect according to Baseball America (#4 by MLBPipeline)...Was also ranked by Baseball America as the 79th-best prospect in all of baseball and the #12 shortstop prospect...Was also tabbed by the same publication as the "Best Power Hitter" and as having the "Best Infield Arm" in Pittsburgh's minor league system...Hit a combined .298 (79-for-265) with 15 doubles, four triples, eight home runs and 34 RBI in 73 games between Bradenton, Altoona and the GCL Pirates (rehab)...Began season with Bradenton, where he hit safely in each of his first five games (7-for-20, .350)...Missed one week from 4/14-22 with lower body discomfort...Was placed on the injured list on 4/28 with a right foot fracture; suffered the injury the night before in a collision with a baserunner while turning a double play...Went 6-for-10 on a three-game rehab assignment from 6/24-28 with the GCL Pirates before being reinstated from the injured list on 6/30...Hit safely in each of first six games back with the Marauders while also going deep three times... Led the Florida State League with six home runs and a .596 slugging percentage while ranking second with a .330 average and .960 OPS from the time of being reinstated until his promotion to Altoona on 7/30...Was named the Florida State League Player of the Month for July after leading the circuit with six home runs, a .958 OPS and .596 slugging percentage while ranking second with a .326 average in 23 games...Was promoted to Double-A on 7/30...Made Curve debut at shortstop and went 0-for-2 as a replacement for Hunter Owen during suspended game from 5/30 that was completed on 7/30...Became the tallest player to ever player for the Curve at 6'6"... Became the 11th player in Altoona history to join the Curve at age 20 or younger...Made first Double-A start at shortstop on 7/30 and hit two doubles as the cleanup hitter...Had a season-high four hits with a triple and three singles on 8/13 at Harrisburg...Recorded an RBI in five straight games from 8/11-16 and 11 RBI over 13 games from 8/5-18...Hit .350 (21-for-60) with four doubles, three triples, 13 RBI and five multi-hit games while reaching base safely in 16-of-18 games from 8/2-21, raising average from .133 to .307...Hit first Double-A home run on 8/24 at Bowie...Was ranked as Pittsburgh's third-best prospect by Baseball America and MLBPipeline at the end of the season... Went 8-for-42 (.190) in 14 games while playing for Peoria during the Arizona Fall League...Also played with Escogido during the Dominican Winter League.
Spent entire season with West Virginia, where he was named to the South Atlantic League's post-season All-Star team...Ranked ninth among the league leaders with 46 extra base hits and fifth in batting average...Finished tied for fifth among Pirates minor leaguers in RBI...Homered twice on 4/13 at Hickory...Hit .215 in April before hitting safely in 14 straight games from 4/27 to 5/14, lifting season average to .274...Led the South Atlantic League with 39 hits, 15 extra base hits and finished second with a .375 average during the month of June while being named the league's Player of the Month...Was named the South Atlantic League's Most Outstanding Prospect following the season (the first Pirates minor leaguer to receive the award since Andrew McCutchen in 2006).
Hit .237 (94-for-397) with 10 homers and 44 RBI in 105 total games between Great Lakes (Dodgers' A) and Single-A West Virginia...Set career high in games played...Hit his first professional home run on 4/8 at Lansing...Hit safely in 21 of his 24 games played in May, raising his season average from .133 to .218...Homered in back-to-back games on 7/19-20...Went 5-for-5 on 7/20 at Cedar Rapids...Was acquired by Pittsburgh on 7/31 and went 3-for-4 with a home run and three RBI in his first game with West Virginia on 8/5 vs. Delmarva.
Spent first professional season with the DSL Dodgers 1 team...Had seven consecutive hits (four doubles) in back-to-back games on 6/11 (4-for-4) and 6/13 (3-for-3).