A pair of top prospects stole are giving fans of two pretty crappy teams something to watch this summer, and a couple of aces dueled to a dazzling finish in Tampa on Monday as the Yanks won their MLB-best 50th game of the season on Monday.
Oneil Cruz Dazzles in ’22 Debut
Before Monday night, there wasn’t much reason to watch the Pittsburgh Pirates. Now, there’s at least one: Oneil Cruz. The towering Pirates prospect checks in at six-foot-seven and he turned in a show in his first game of the season with the Pirates on Monday evening against the Cubs.
Cruz uncorked a 96.7 mph throw from shortstop in the top of the third last night, the hardest throw by an infielder this season. Then he crushed a 112.9 mph rocket for a three-run double in the bottom of the third inning, the hardest-hit ball of the year by a Pirates player. Cruz, despite his towering size, also recorded the three fastest spring speeds of the season by a pirates player (31.5, 30.7, and 30.3 mph).
Cruz finished the evening 2-for-5 with four RBI, and a pair of runs scored as the Pirates walloped the Cubs at PNC Park last night. Here’s what Bligh Madris, who made his MLB debut last night, had to say about Cruz prior to the game:
“Guy’s unreal,” said outfielder Bligh Madris. “He has tools that come around once every 100 years. He’s special, to say the least. He can do things with the bat. He can hit pitches out of the ballpark that some guys are lucky to get out of the infield. It’s unbelievable being able to see what he can do.”
Sports Illustrated‘s Nick Selbe put together an excellent write-up on Cruz and why he alone is giving folks a reason to tune into the Pirates this summer:
Riley Greene Makes MLB Debut in Detroit
Oneil Cruz isn’t the only top prospect making headlines this week. The fifth pick in the 2019 MLB Draft and baseball’s No. 2 prospect on MLB Pipeline’s latest Top 100 list, Riley Greene made his big league debut for the Tigers on Saturday.
Greene picked up his first major league hit and finished the day 2-for-3 with two walks as the top prospect reached base four times for the Tigers in a 14-7 Tigers victory on Saturday afternoon.
Greene went 0-for-2 on Sunday but picked up another pair of walks in another Tigers win over Texas, and Green went 1-for-3 with a walk and a run scored in a loss to the Red Sox on Monday. Greene has five walks in his first three games, half as many as Javy Báez has this entire season. While his .990 OPS in just eight at-bats is an excellent sign for Detroit, it’s the smallest of sample sizes, and the ability to take walks is equally as exciting for an offense that has been historically bad in Detroit this season.
Tigers beat writer Cody Stavenhagen had a conversation with Jered Goodwin, Senior Director of Scouting Operations at Perfect Game USA, about Greene’s rise to the fifth pick in the MLB Draft and now a top prospect in the game with the Tigers:
McClanahan-Cole Duel, Yanks Win 50th Game
If you had Gerrit Cole and Shane McClanahan as the game to watch on Monday night, you were correct, as the duel between the two lived up to the hype. Cole took a no-hitter into the eighth inning before Issac Paredes singled up the middle with one out in the top of the eighth inning.
Cole finished the night with 7.1 innings pitched, one earned run, 12 strikeouts, and three walks on 111 pitches but was saddled with a no-decision after the Rays plated a pair in the eighth to tie things up at two-a-piece.
Shane McClanahan allowed just one run on four hits over six innings while striking out eight and walking just one. McClanahan’s lone mistake on the night was a two-strike fastball left over the plate that Anthony Rizzo dumped into the seats at the Trop to put the Yankees ahead of Tampa Bay in the top of the first inning.
Cole and the Yankees got the last laugh on Monday, scoring two runs in the top of the ninth en route to a 4-2 win over Tampa Bay.
The win for the Yankees marked win No. 50 on the season as the Yankees woke up this morning with a mind-boggling good 50-17 record. The Bronx Bombers are the first team in baseball to reach 50 wins and did so in just 67 games. If the Yankees can replicate that pace over the next 67 games, they will have a 100-34 record 134 games into the season, putting them in historic territory.
Of course, expecting the Yankees to win 50 of their next 67, again, is probably very unlikely, so let’s pump the brakes on the record watches for the time being.