Prospect Cruz Hits Long HR as Pirates Beat Phillies

Dickerson homers as Lyles gets the win

Jeff Hathhorn
March 23, 2019 - 5:02 pm

93.7 the Fan

BRADENTON, FL (93.7 the Fan) – A towering home run from shortstop prospect Oneil Cruz helped a Pirates split-squad beat the Phillies 5-3 Saturday.  The 6’6” Cruz started at short, and hit his second homer of the spring off Phillies starter Zach Eflin to break a 3-3 tie.

“That ball was hammered,” said manager Clint Hurdle.  “He’s another guy you can get excited about.  From the day the trade was made I’ve heard things. I‘ve watched video.  I love the fact that our player development people have shown the commitment to shortstop.  Let him play.  There may be a day he shows you it’s not the fit, right now it’s the fit.  The bat is real and it plays.”

Corey Dickerson also hit his third homer of the spring, right over the foul pole in right.  Dickerson is hitting .424 during Grapefruit League games.

Jordan Lyles made his fourth start, going five innings, allowing three earned off seven hits.  All three of the runs scored with two outs, a Phil Gosselin homer and then a two-run single from the starter Eflin.

“Ups-and-downs throughout the day, that one inning got away from myself,” Lyles said.  “That homer was a ball I left over the plate on 3-2.  I think some other balls found holes as well.  Other than that I think I managed decently well.”

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Lyles said he was able to command the upper part of the strike zone with conviction and feels he’s in a good place with the pitch mix.

GM Neal Huntington said Lyles had the upper-hand to be the fifth starter, but said nothing was yet finalized.

“I think there has been consistency,” Hurdle said.  “There were no walks on the day, there were five punch-outs.  The fastball was elevated, the curveball got the plate.  Came on late, it wasn’t happening for him early, he stayed with it.  The ability to work both arm-side and glove-side, he continues to figure things out.”

“I’ve enjoyed every part of it,” Lyles said of his first Spring Training with the Pirates. “Hanging out with guys away from the clubhouse has been easy.  It’s a good group that is easy to mesh with, looking forward to it.  I will spend 180 or so more days with them, not a bad group to spend those days with.”

The meat of the Pirates bullpen, Richard Rodriguez, Kyle Crick, Keone Kela and Felipe Vazquez finished the game allowing just a hit and two walks and striking out four.

Earlier in the day, Huntington announced Francisco Liriano and Melky Cabrera will make the opening day roster.  Hurdle gave this thoughts after the game.

“We value his eyes with our players when he’s not playing, it is a good fit,” Hurdle said of Cabrera.  “The chatter, the dugout talk, that’s been going on since he got here.  The double switch can come into play with much more flexibility.  I just like what I’ve heard from other people and I like what I’ve seen in his approach at the plate and the way he’s worked preparing for games.”

“We gave as many reps as he could handle this spring,” Hurdle said of Liriano.  “He is still developing in that role.  We are confident that it’s going to find improvement, consistency.  I like the pitcher and I’ve grown to appreciate the man and the ballplayer.  And the steadfast influence he can have on people in a non-outgoing way.  He is calm and experienced.”

Bucs Lose to Boston

Jameson Taillon gave up four runs on eight hits in four innings as most of the backups played in a 12-3 loss to Boston in Fort Myers.  Ke’Bryan Hayes accounted for all of the Bucs runs hitting a three-run homer, his third of the spring, and now with a dozen RBI.  Reliever Tyler Lyons threw a perfect inning striking out a pair.

Closer

Bucs finish Grapefruit League play against the Orioles Sunday in Sarasota.  Trevor Williams will start against Andrew Cashner.  Nick Kingham and Steven Brault are also scheduled to pitch.

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