5 more young MLB stars who should follow in Bobby Witt Jr.'s footsteps

The Kansas City Royals locked up their 23-year-old phenom by signing him to a massive contract yesterday. What other teams should follow suit with their young stars?

Gunnar Henderson is just one of the game's young stars that deserve a long-term contract
Gunnar Henderson is just one of the game's young stars that deserve a long-term contract / Brandon Sloter/GettyImages
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Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop Oneil Cruz

While we're on the subject of Dominican players that look like they would play for baseball's version of the Monstars, let's talk about Oneil Cruz. The towering 6'7" shortstop missed nearly all of 2023 for the Pittsburgh Pirates with a fractured ankle, but he's on track to be ready for Opening Day.

Cruz has enough raw ability to give any Yinzer goosebumps. He owns the record for hardest throw by an infielder in the Statcast era, a 97.8 mph missile against the Marlins two summers ago, and the hardest-hit ball of the Statcast era, a 122.4 mph frozen rope off the right field wall against the Braves a month later. That's the kind of ridiculous record usually reserved for Shohei Ohtani.

Like the Royals, the Pirates have been operating at a level below most major league teams for quite a while, but with recent moves to re-sign franchise cornerstones Ke'Bryan Hayes and Bryan Reynolds, plus the addition of Paul Skenes, the highest-rated pitching prospect in baseball, things are finally looking up in the Steel City. If Cruz can show signs of living up to his sky-high ceiling this year, the Pirates should extend him, too.