Top Prospect #33: Maximo De La Cruz

The Phillies have been very careful with developing Maximo De La Cruz, but it's time for him to show just what he can do. The biggest problem for De La Cruz is consistency, especially in his first stint with a full-season team.

The Phillies have kept Maximo De La Cruz out of the spotlight for as long as possible. After a short stint in the Gulf Coast League in 2002, the Phillies sent him back to the Dominican Summer League for another season and then returned him for a short-season return to the GCL. In 2005, De La Cruz got his first shot at pitching for a full-season team and struggled with Lakewood. At times though, he seemed to show the sort of promise that the Phillies believe he has, but those outings were too few and far between. He'd put together a good outing or two and then fall back into bad habits that made his overall numbers look pretty rough.

YEAR / TEAM W L ERA SV G GS IP H R ER HR BB KO
'02 Dominican Summer League 4 2 2.48 0 11 10 58.0 43 20 16 3 16 40
'02 Gulf Coast League 1 0 1.17 0 2 1 7.2 4 1 1 0 2 5
'03 Dominican Summer League 5 3 3.55 2 18 8 71.0 72 32 28 2 14 72
'04 Gulf Coast League 4 3 2.11 0 12 11 59.2 64 25 14 1 13 54
'05 Lakewood 8 12 5.10 0 27 27 162.1 186 109 92 15 48 105
Career 22 20 3.79 2 70 57 358.2 369 187 151 21 93 276

Acquired: Signed by the Phillies as an amateur free agent in November, 2001.

Pitching: De La Cruz throws the basic compliment of pitches. The Phillies have worked with him on developing his secondary pitches to go with a solid fastball. Generally, De La Cruz relies on good control and keeps the ball down in the zone. He usually gets good movement on his pitches and isn't afraid to mix his pitches throughout the game. One concern about De La Cruz is that he tends to wear down quickly. His ERA in the first two innings of games last season was 3.50. After that, it ballooned to 5.76 between the third and sixth innings and was an astronomical 6.75 in the final three innings of a game. That stat has "reliever" written all over it.

Projection: While his stats may scream otherwise, the Phillies have generally used De La Cruz in the starting rotation. They were anxious to see what he would do over a full season as a starter, but weren't overjoyed with the results. The fact that he was able to pitch 162.1 innings was good news though and the Phillies believe that he'll continue to develop with more work and maturity. The Phillies may well decide to keep De La Cruz at Lakewood to start the 2006 season and move him along if he shows more consistency and better numbers than he did in '05.

ETA: Since there is a lot of work to do with De La Cruz and the Phillies are generally very cautious with young pitchers, it's unlikely that he will be on the radar anytime soon. It's probably going to be close to 2010 before De La Cruz is really looking to crack the majors, but the good news is that he will first turn 25 in May of 2010, so there is time for him to develop.

 


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