Oneil Cruz Is One of the Tallest MLB Players in History, Could Be Really Good
Oneil Cruz was a 16-year-old when the Los Angeles Dodgers signed him in 2015. So he wasn't done growing. He kept growing and he kept improving, eventually finding himself in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization as a heralded prospect at shortstop. He's approaching 24 now, so he's probably hit his ceiling at 6-foot-7. But his ceiling as a player and his potential to become one of baseball's most interesting and exciting players persists — even if the Major League results are in the nascent stage.
Cruz made his Major League debut in last season's penultimate game and closed things out in the finale. Along the way he picked up three hits, including a home run. The rebuilding Pirates called him up a few days ago and he's continued to show those flashes, picking up at least one RBI in all four contests. Six starts is a small sample size, but it can be accurately said that Cruz has never played a game in the show without driving someone home.
The power, speed, and defensive talent could all manifest and bring some winning to a town that hasn't won in awhile. Eventually, Cruz will probably end up at third base because, well, we've never seen a regular shortstop taller than 6-foot-4. And when you look at the pencil marks on the wall, they reveal precious few position players have ever been as close to the clouds.
Tony Clark, productive first baseman for the Detroit Tigers and New York Yankees and current player advocate, stood 6-foot-8. Ryan Minor, at 6-foot-7, played alongside Cal Ripken Jr. in Baltimore. Sluggers Frank Howard and Aaron Judge are also members of the 6-foot-7 club. So too is Walt Bond. Nate Freiman stood 6-foot-8 and played a few seasons with the Athletics. And that's about it. Everyone else has been shorter than Cruz.
With power, speed, range and an above-average arm, Cruz has all the tools to be something special. He has the novelty too. Sky's the limit.