As was reported earlier, Tony Cruz was having a decent season until an unfortunate hand injury that ended his season in the Florida State League. He showed a decent batting average with decent power and extra base hits for a catcher. He didn't walk a lot but he still drew a walk every four games.
From what I observed Cruz seems completely healthy and healed from the hand injury as it does not seem to bother him in the field or at bat. He has a typical body type for a catcher, stocky with a large frame and strong legs. He may be somewhat heavier that his statistics report but none of it impedes his mobility or play.
From what I saw, Cruz possesses decent mobility for a catcher. I wouldn't characterize him as slow but more of an average runner with a decent first step. He made a few plays in the field showed off his reflexes. Cruz still seems to be adjusting to first base. I am not sure how much he played the position before but he still looked good despite a gaffe or two.
Cruz seemed to work the count well but jumped on pitches that he thought he could drive. He seems to be willing to take a pitch but is oriented on attacking pitches he thinks are in the zone. He appears to be able to hit balls high in the zone with authority.
In his first at bat, he took pitches until he got a high fastball that he whacked for a hard hit single up the middle. Cruz moved up on an intended hit and run, as the batter checked his swing but missed and the ball got past the catcher momentarily. Cruz was already running and moved up to second on the play.
In his second at bat in the third inning, Cruz swung at a high first-pitch fastball and just hit the underside of the ball that spun up for a high pop-up. In the third at bat, batting with a man on first, Cruz took a few pitches before striking a waist high outside fastball to the right-field gap. Hans La Orange has a big outfield so it was in no danger of being caught. It was struck with authority and hit the wall on one bounce, scoring the runner from first. Cruz seems to have more loft to his swing than does teammate Jim Rapoport, which probably explains his better power numbers.
For this at-bat, the pitcher had
been changed to
In the 6th inning, Cruz faced Chris Hicks, who was struggling early with his control. It is also possible he was trying to be careful when pitching to the hot-hitting Cruz. Cruz watched two balls low near the dirt and one ball high before taking an inside fastball for his only walk of the evening. Cruz didn't bite on any of them. Cruz moved from first to third as the next batter singled. He drew a throw to third which allowed the batter to move up to second on the play. Cruz showed good hustle. He scored on a wild pitch that bounced off the plate and over the catcher's head.
Cruz's final at bat was in the 8th. He took three pitches outside before hitting an 88 mph fastball from Jun Ho Ha. The ball came spinning funny of his bat as he just got a piece of it with a strong swing. Cruz blooped a high fly ball into the middle of right field where it landed just fair on the line and took a tremendous hop that sent it out of the stadium on the right side along foul territory. The hop was crazy and it was one of the weirdest things I've seen on a grass field. It was a ground rule double and
Tony took his base.
Since the Sharks were leading by a large margin, it looked like they decided to take some risks. Tony saw the catcher lose the ball near his feet and tried to take advantage by going to third but was gunned down trying to advance. He probably shouldn't have gone since the ball was still close to the catcher, but I think the Shark's staff seemed okay with taking a few risks. It was a solid night for Tony Cruz.
Defensively, Cruz was playing first where he is still adjusting, although he looked fully capable there. He reacted well and made the routine plays. He made an excellent grab just above his shoulder going to his left with a ball that was smoked toward right field. He then stepped on first to complete an unassisted double play.
Cruz also made a nice play as he had to charge a hard-hit chopper. He was caught slightly sideways but still made the play, catching it on the bounce before the ball could get away from him.
The only difficulty he had was on a hard-hit grounder to the first base side. Tony slid on his knees, blocked the ball and attempted to glove it, but he missed it on the slide and although he kept it in front of him, the runners advanced. No runs were scored, though.
Subscribe now to Scout.com to get the most comprehensive St. Louis Cardinals winter ball news every day all off-season long via our daily Cardinals Winter League Notebook. Here's some of what else you've been missing.
Our countdown of the top Players
and Pitchers of the Year at every level of the Cardinals minor league system
Cardinals instructional league camp coordinator Mike Shildt recaps the fall program and many of the standout performers in a three-part audio interview.
Coming next week:
Cardinals Director of International Operations Moises Rodriguez breaks down the
organization's growing initiatives outside the
Take advantage of our seven-day free trial to catch these articles, access to our Cardinals insiders message board and so much more as a Scout.com subscriber.
© 2008 stlcardinals.scout.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.