Cruz was acquired in a package of prospects for Tony Watson (LHP, Dodgers) in a July 2017 swap. A 6’6’’ shortstop with massive raw power and arm strength, Cruz has my vote for “most unique” player in all the minors. I’ve seen him for the last two years, and the improvements defensively and with his swing-path have me convinced the size/athlete/power skillset will get him in the discussion for the game’s top 100 prospects. Cruz was somehow left off the South Atlantic League all-star roster after slashing .303/.363/.516 with 10 homeruns in 2018’s first half, finishing strong with a 1.005 OPS in the month of June.
The only physical comparison for this type of frame is Gregory Polanco, but the right-handed Cruz has the athleticism to play in the infield right now. He lines up at shortstop, and while he profiles at third base or right field at the end of the day, I saw significant improvement in his defensive actions and playmaking. A cannon arm—an easy 60-grade, if not a 70—combined with solid instincts and first-step will keep the towering 19-year-old off first base despite his height. He puts on a show in BP, with 60/70 raw power that launches towering flyballs to the pullside and can put it out of any part of the park. His strikeout rate has decreased significantly, and while there is still a ways to go recognizing off-speed pitches, he’s showing more barrel control and ability to stay inside the ball. There will always be strikeouts with a power hitter this size, but it’s encouraging to see the raw power start to translate to game action with overall improvements to Cruz’ hit tool from last season.
There’s extreme risk with this prospect, as his blend of height and boom-or-bust offensive profile could break a lot of ways. Count me as an internet evaluator that’s “in” on this guy, though: the ceiling is a power-hitting athlete with 20+ homerun potential, able to provide defensive value at several corner positions.