2008 Cardinals Prospect #28 – Luis de la Cruz

The 18-year-old Dominican catcher burst onto the scene in 2007 with a strong showing in the Gulf Coast League.

Scout.com Player Profile (including links to 2007 and career stats)

2007 Ranking: not ranked

Position: C

DOB: 5/6/1989

Height: 5-foot-10

Weight: 164

Bats: R

Throws: R

Home: Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Became a Cardinal: Signed as a non-drafted free agent on May 19, 2006.

2007 stats

Tm

AVG

AB

R

H

2B

3B

HR

RBI

BB

SO

SB

OBP

SLG

OPS

GCL

0.281

96

10

27

6

2

0

9

7

16

3

0.337

0.385

0.722

Staff Comments (individual rankings in parens)

Leonda Markee (NR): de la Cruz' American debut in 2007 put him on my ‘watch' list. He went .281/.337/.385/.722 (.338 BABIP) as the GCL Cardinals' primary catcher (after Ivan Castro's promotion). Eight of the 18-year-old's 27 hits were for extra bases although he did not have a home run. de la Cruz is young and there is still plenty of time for his power to develop. But 45% of the 2006 draft class that appeared on The Birdhouse's Top 40 for 2006 did not make the 2007 version. Hence, Luis de la Cruz goes onto my ‘watch' list instead of my 2007 Top 40 list.

Dustin Mattison (26): A prime example of the Cardinals' new dedication to the Caribbean, the 18-year-old made a big splash in the Gulf Coast League this summer. de la Cruz' value is much greater behind the plate where he has shown good catch and throw skills with plus arm strength. That arm strength enabled him to throw out 51% of would be Gulf Coast League base stealers. At this time, de la Cruz has shown good gap power and a quick bat. Scouts say the power should come with maturity and have made comparisons to Ivan Rodriguez.

Ray Mileur (20): The 18-year-old catcher was ranked among the top players in the Gulf Coast League this season. The GCL is a long way from the majors, but Cruz has impressed the scouts early on to the extent that he has been projected with a higher ceiling then some first-round draft choices. For the season, with runners in scoring position, de la Cruz's line was an impressive .345/.387/.552 (batting average/on-base-percentage/slugging).

In the final month of the season, Cruz produced very remarkable slash stats of .370/.408/.543 that created a buzz throughout the organization. He's failed to hit one out of the park in his first 195 professional at-bats. Only 13 of his first 56 hits as a professional have been for extra-bases, 11 doubles and two triples, but he's a potential star behind the plate with a strong arm and defensive skills that will likely be enough to carry him to the Majors.

Brian Walton (35): Normally in the case of a player with such a small body of work as a professional as de la Cruz, I would want to see more before giving the player top 40 consideration. Yet, even though it is probably unfair and maybe even unwarranted, seeing the name Ivan Rodriguez used as a comp by scouts has to cause one to stop and take notice.

To keep the praise in balance, remember that his Gulf Coast League success was achieved in fewer than 100 at-bats in total. In other words, that could simply be a hot month for a Major Leaguer. Also, de la Cruz' power has yet to emerge, though there is still plenty of time for that. Surely he is an intriguing player to watch.

Key: NR = not ranked, NA = not applicable

To see our entire list of 40 prospects as they are unveiled daily, click here. You can also read each of the voters' philosophies in making their selections.

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