Cardinals AFL Interview Series: Tony Cruz

The fast-rising catcher in the St. Louis Cardinals system speaks from the Arizona Fall League.

St. Louis Cardinals catching prospect Tony Cruz is among the top hitters in the 2010 Arizona Fall League. The 24-year-old is tied for sixth in the league in home runs with three and tied for 11th with 14 RBI (in just 15 games). Cruz is hitting .339 overall and .422 (19-for-45) during an active 11-game hitting streak through Thursday for the Surprise Rafters.

Rafters' hitting coach Derrick May had Cruz in Springfield in each of the last two seasons and witnessed a major difference in approach year-to-year that has translated to improved results with the bat.

"The difference in him between last year and this year is that he is using the whole field," May said. "He is really learning how to hit. He is a guy that knows how to catch, but he is learning how to hit and he is getting better and better every year."

May has no doubt that Cruz, who has experience at both corner infield positions, is a good enough catcher to make it there.

"A lot of people here and a lot of people I talk to like the way he handles the staff, the way he calls the game and that he throws out runners," May recalled. "He has one of the more accurate arms and quick releases that you are going to find… and he can hit."

After being sent back to Palm Beach for the first half of the season so Steven Hill could start behind the plate at Springfield every day, Cruz returned to Springfield in June. By August, he was called up to Triple-A Memphis, where he became the Redbirds' regular catcher, including throughout the Pacific Coast League playoffs.

Cruz' promotion was a bittersweet move from the Springfield perspective, May recalled.

"It was good that he did," the hitting coach said. "It was kind of disheartening for us, but that is what you like to see as a coach. You like to see him go up and play and contribute and do what they are capable of doing."

In the following exclusive audio clip, Cruz discusses his 2010 regular season, his solid work in the AFL and the various Cardinals pitchers he has been catching there.

(4:36)

TCN has you covered!

As every year, The Cardinal Nation is your leader in independent first-hand reporting on and from the Arizona Fall League. Keep returning daily for new interviews with the Cardinals prospects playing for the Surprise Rafters this fall and their coaches.

Other interviews in this series
Brian Broderick
Ramon Delgado
Jordan Swagerty
Blake King
Zack Cox
Adron Chambers

Coming soon
Pete Kozma
Derrick May



Brian Walton can be reached via email at brian@thecardinalnationblog.com. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Selected TCN content appears at FOXSportsMidwest.com. Follow Brian on Twitter.

© 2010 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com and stlcardinals.scout.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


The Cardinal Nation Top Stories