Giant shortstop Cruz has giant goal for 2020

BRADENTON, Fla. -- The double doors at Pirate City have a door closer hanging a few inches off the top of the structure. It's hardly intrusive and barely even noticeable. Every player, coach and clubhouse person will pass through those doors multiple times a day, not paying any mind to the closer.

Oneil Cruz has to duck to make sure he did not hit his head off of it.

"Man, he just keeps getting taller," Jared Oliva, Cruz's Class AA and Arizona Fall League teammate, joked with me.

Cruz's stature has been well documented since the Pirates acquired him in a trade with the Dodgers during the 2017 trade deadline, but it isn't until you see him in person that you realize exactly how tall he is. The 21-year-old shortstop is officially listed at 6'7", standing a head taller than just about everyone on the roster. He seems even larger is person.

Since coming to the Pirates' organization, he has been filling out that frame with muscle -- he added another 5-10 pounds this winter, he said -- and become one of the top prospects in baseball.

Perhaps there is some irony in him playing short-stop, though many scouts and prospect experts forecast him going to a corner infield position or the outfield. He has not performed particularly well at short to help his case, making 16 errors total between advanced-A and double-A a year ago.

Cruz, however, is determined to stay at shortstop, his native position.

“I’m focused on playing short,” Cruz said through Pirates interpreter Mike Gonzalez. “It’s the most fun position to play on the field. I love all of the action. I don’t want to play anywhere else.”

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