Mark Madden

Mark Madden

The Super Genius of Pittsburgh Sports.Full Bio



Pirates rookie shortstop Oneil Cruz didn’t walk once in his first 45 major-league plate appearances before breaking his duck with two free passes Wednesday at DC. 

That’s a problem. 

There are Three True Outcomes. Not two, or one. 

For Cruz, it’s mostly one: He’s struck out 12 times in just 38 MLB at-bats this season. He’s got one home run and Wednesday's two walks. 

Cruz, 23, is a promising prospect. His MLB sample size is small. 

But if Cruz almost never walks, he won’t be the hitter he should be. He won’t control the plate. He won’t get on base enough. 

Cruz has never walked much, though he did so 30 times in 247 Class AAA plate appearances this season. That’s the most selective stretch of his pro career. 

Cruz must be coached to do that, and better, at the big-league level. Control the plate. Get better pitches to hit. Walk more. Get on base. 

There are many things to not trust about the Pirates. Their developmental process is one of those. Too many players leave Pittsburgh and blossom. 

It will happen again. Wait ‘til Bryan Reynolds gets traded. (He's already pretty good.)

Pittsburgh Pirates v Tampa Bay Rays

Photo: Getty Images

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