Growing Pains & Reality Checks; Before the Pirates Add Another Top Prospect

6-11-22 – By Gary Morgan – @garymo2007 on Twitter

It’s early June.

The weather has warmed, the storms are starting to boil, the Arts Festival is going on, so of course it’s been raining.

The Pirates who just experienced the highs that youth can provide in sweeping the Dodgers out in LA, are now experiencing the other side of that coin as they face the Braves in Atlanta.

Rookies galore. There are debuts and firsts happening once or twice a week, but eventually that catches up with you.

Bold prediction time folks, and it’s kinda an educated guess. We’ll hear it leaked next Thursday that Oneil Cruz is being promoted, and he’ll make his season debut at home next Friday. If I’m wrong, I’m wrong, but between rumblings, and talking, performance and common sense, that’s when it’ll be. By all means, feel free to continue yelling about it for another week, but that’s all it’ll be.

The offense clearly needs more. Cruz is just one guy, but he’s done something that few in this lineup have shown, a proclivity for driving in runs or hitting with runners in scoring position.

If you go look up his overall numbers for 2022, it’s not great, but recency bias is a thing with prospects and his last two weeks, he’s raking.

Let’s not pretend this is what the team was waiting for, that just insults the intelligence of every fan and the player himself, even if John Baker is still reading directly from the playbook.

I mean, nothing here is untrue, it’s also a bit disingenuous. That said, what is going on and why he was sent down in the first place isn’t really a well kept secret. You just aren’t going to find anyone employed by a baseball team dumb enough to say the quiet parts out loud on something like this.

Point is, he’s ready and the team needs him.

Best case scenario, he impacts the lineup and finally provides some timeliness and pop. Hell, best case really is his presence gets Reynolds going too.

In the meantime, the club is actively getting punched in the mouth by Atlanta, and unless something happens here, I’ll go ahead and assume St. Louis won’t feel much better.

I haven’t bothered to write or speak his name really until now, but what in the actual hell did this team see in Yu Chang? I’ve asked the question and everyone I spoke to pointed back to the second half of 2021 where he found some power.

So I understand that part, but I’m honestly questioning if anyone physically put eyes on him THIS year. I’ve literally not seen an approach so messy. With all the current hitting coaches and former hitting coaches on this staff, I’m not sure what they’re seeing. It’s so glaringly poor, I actually wonder if Derek Shelton and staff aren’t trying to teach the front office a lesson. If you keep sending me scrap like this, know what, I’m gonna use ’em.

Of course that likely isn’t the case, but I’m grasping at straws. Especially since even if he happened to be ok, I’m not sure it would matter anyhow. You’re not going to allow him to block someone like Bae, or Marcano right?

It’s the same conversation we all had about VanMeter, and even though he started hitting a bit before getting hurt.

Point is, right now it’s a bunch of kids, some playing at a really high level, some playing below the line. That’s going to get you series wins against a team you have no business beating, and it’s also going to lead to having your brains beaten in by a good team just finding themselves this season.

Some see things like this and jump to the team getting worse. I don’t really see it that way, I see it more as growing pains. Trying to figure out pieces that are going to be here as we audition rookies and youngsters.

See, you deal with Jack Suwinski’s early struggles, in order to have a chance to see him crack the code. You want to see him improve, push back, start to turn the good signs you’re seeing into results, and to his credit, he’s done that. He’s proven in the early going, he’s worth more time. He’s proven now he can handle being in the top portion of the lineup.

All these things you don’t see or learn without patience.

Sometimes, that’s gonna lead to 8 weeks of frustration and screaming at the TV that Shelton has a love affair with some waste of flesh. All to be proven absolutely right, he wasn’t good.

That’s how this stuff goes.

See I’m not happy about Chang, I don’t see a damn thing there, I don’t think Shelton does if we’re honest, but I also don’t care nearly as much as I would if the team was 75% complete. They simply aren’t.

We started this season with Hayes, Bednar, and Reynolds looking like locked on pieces of this build.

As we sit here right now it looks more like Hayes, Bednar, (yes still Reynolds), Suwinski in some role at least, Roansy, Thompson, maybe even Keller, Wil Crowe, Peters, Chavis in some capacity. See the thing is the list of what makes up this team has grown, and next week they’ll likely add another named Oneil Cruz.

This is the process, dumbed down to a disturbingly simplified form, but the process.

Enjoy Cruz coming up, but be patient with him too. As talented as he is, he’s going to make mistakes, and he’s going to make errors. He’ll take bad at bats, and he’ll also hit some bombs that nobody else on this team is capable of.

Yes, he could have been here a long time ago. Yes, it’s possible he’d have been good from the jump. Honestly though, by next July, all that stuff will fade into the background.

Your team is forming, before your very eyes.

Piece by piece.

Published by Gary Morgan

Former contributor for Inside the Pirates an SI Team Channel

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