Wednesday, January 21, 2009

15. Eulogio de la Cruz

15. Eulogio de la Cruz -RHP - 5'11 - 175lbs
(last year: 11)

The Detroit Tigers signed Eulogio de la Cruz as an undrafted free agent back in 2001. A smaller guy, he was rated as having the best fast ball in the Tigers system (this included Joel Zumaya and Justin Verlander). He throws in the high 90s and has hit 100mph on numerous occasions. He has a fantastic curveball in the classic “knee-buckler” mode. But for all of his awesome stuff, his strikeout rate at Erie was around league average (7.5/9). Cruz, like most power pitchers, lives and dies by his control. When he’s remotely close to the plate, Eulogio can be unhittable. Because of his control problems, scouts and front offices alike were not sure if he would be better suited as a starter or in the pen . For his minor league career, he is walking 4 batters per 9 innings. Like Renyel Pinto, Cruz can get out hitter by being “effectively wild”, he just needs to remain around the plate.

Acquired in the Miguel Cabrera/Dontrelle Willis blockbuster from a season ago, Eulogio (or Frankie as his teammates call him) has as much talent as any pitcher in the Marlins organization. If he can cut the walks a bit, his overall numbers should improve as well. He was straight filthy in Erie (2007) holding both righties and lefties batting averages under .227. Upon promotion to AAA Toledo, lefties hit just .243 on him but it was righties that were knocking him all around the ballpark. While he wasn't giving up many extra base hits, right handed hitters still hit .329 off him and got on a base at a .407 clip.

The 2008 season was a mixed bag for de la Cruz. He started off terribly in Albuquerque, giving up 21 runs in 21 innings in April. He bounced back in May and June before showing signs of tiredness in July. He finished strong in August and then finished the season up in the big leagues.

Because of the question marks surrounding him as a starter or a reliever, and his control issues, he was left out of the top 10. You can't teach that kind of velocity and if he can keep those walks down he can be a productive pitcher. Even if the Marlins consider him to be a relief prospect instead, he still has a high ceiling as a closer or knockout setup man. Either way, with de la Cruz out of options, he will open up the season in the Marlins bullpen and could step in to start a game or two if the opportunity presents itself.

1 comment:

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