PITTSBURGH — If the aim of swinging a bat is to hit the ball arduous, then Oneil Cruz did it higher than anybody.
The Pittsburgh Pirates rookie recorded the hardest-hit ball within the seven years that Main League Baseball has measured exit velocity, lashing a single that got here off the bat at 122.4 mph in a 14-2 loss to Atlanta on Wednesday.
Cruz stepped in to face Braves starter Kyle Wright with one on and two outs within the third when he turned on a 91 mph fastball and smashed it off the 21-foot-high Clemente Wall in proper discipline.
New York Yankees slugger Giancarlo Stanton beforehand had the report for the hardest-hit ball, reaching 122.2 mph in 2017 and once more final yr. MLB started monitoring the metric in 2015.
“At the moment, I didn’t even think I hit the ball that hard,” mentioned the 23-year-old Cruz. “When I came into the dugout, some of my teammates shared with me that I hit it 122 (mph). I smiled but deep down inside I was like, ‘Wow, I really hit that ball hard.’ Now, finding out that I broke a record, it means a lot to me. That’s something positive to take away from today’s game.”
Cruz initially thought the ball would clear the fence. As an alternative, it caromed to Atlanta proper fielder Ronald Acuna Jr. and Cruz had no shot at additional bases. Acuna might need had an out of doors shot to get Cruz at first if first baseman Matt Olson had been masking the bag.
“To be honest with you, I did think it was going to go out but I did notice that it was starting to go down and about to hit the fence, that’s when I started running even harder,” Cruz mentioned. “But I did expect it to go out. I didn’t expect it to hit the wall and come right back.”
The Pirates are within the midst of a large overhaul, one that’s counting on the 6-foot-6 Cruz. He made a short cameo on the finish of final season earlier than arriving within the majors to remain on June 20. He is batting .199 with 10 homers and 30 RBIs.
Regardless of his early struggles, Cruz’s instruments have impressed Atlanta supervisor Brian Snitker, who mentioned he is glad the ball hit the wall as a substitute of going over it, the place it might need harm somebody.
Cruz has been a Statcast darling since his debut. The shortstop made the toughest recorded help by an infielder on July 14 when he fired the ball throughout the diamond at 97.8 mph.
“He’s got skills, my God,” Snitker mentioned. “You start grading tools and it’s off the charts, you know, for a big guy. I mean, that’s going to be fun to watch.”