Prospect Profile - Eulogio De la Cruz

De la Cruz has quite an arm

Over the past several years, the Tiger organization has struggled to develop relief prospects. However, the team hopes it will be a different story with Eulogio De la Cruz, the young flamethrower that just concluded his season in West Michigan. And while relief prospects are always a gamble, there is plenty of reason to believe De la Cruz is the guy to snap the trend.

Eulogio DelacruzDetroit Tigers
Position: Relief Pitcher Height: 5-11 Weight: 170 Born: 3/12/84 Bats: Right Throws: Right

Background
The Tigers spotted Eulogio in the Dominican Republic as a teenager, and couldn't pass up the opportunity to sign him at the tender age of 17 late in 2001. After being assigned to the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League in 2002, de la Cruz took it to his young, GCL counterparts, posting a 2.63 ERA over 38 innings while striking out 46 batters. After a late season promotion to Oneonta, Eulogio struggled mightily posting an ERA of over 20 in two outings. The 2003 season proved to be a mirror image of his rookie campaign, including the late season struggles in Oneonta. After working in the Fall Instructional League, the organization challenged de la Cruz with an assignment to full season ball with the West Michigan Whitecaps of the Midwest League in 2004.

Scouting Report
Despite his small stature, Eulogio can dial his fastball up to 96 consistently while touching triple digits with some regularity. Having struggled with his control in both Rookie-level seasons, Eulogio has started to harness his powerful arm, although his walk totals and wild pitches remain high. During the 2004 season, de la Cruz has shown an improved ability to get ahead of hitters with his powerful fastball, but still has not quite figured out how to put hitters away. His breaking ball and change-up have progressed each year of his professional career, but they are still only intermittently successful. Eulogio has the raw "stuff" to develop into a dominating closer, a role he relishes and has excelled in over the past two seasons. With a likely jump to High-A Lakeland, Eulogio needs to improve his strikeout rates, which are abnormally low for someone who throws in the upper-90s.

Health Record
De la Cruz has not experienced any injuries of concern to date.

The Future
While it is very hard to predict the future success of minor league relievers, de la Cruz appears to be on track to a Major League career. He will need to refine his breaking pitches and become more consistent with the control of his power arsenal if he is to do so. If Eulogio is able to do this, we could start to hear his name as the potential closer of the future in Detroit. Eulogio possesses the competitiveness and fire necessary to be a successful late inning reliever, and thus far has demonstrated a knack for getting the job done despite control problems. Still only 20 years old, de la Cruz has a long road ahead of him before he is likely to reach Comerica Park, but things look pretty good right now.

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