Phillies Prospect #41: Maximino Delacruz

In his second season at Lakewood, Maximino Delacruz didn't put up the kind of numbers that were expected. While he may have taken a bit of a step back, there is no reason to believe that he can't rebound in 2007.

For Maximino Delacruz, the road to the United States was long. The Phillies kept him stashed away in his native Dominican Republic and didn't try to rush his development before they felt he was ready to be pushed a little. His arrival in the states was short with a stop in the Gulf Coast League, but the following season, he was back in the Dominican Republic pitching in the DSL. By 2004, Delacruz was headed for the United States for good and had an impressive season in the Gulf Coast League. Things went well enough that he moved to Lakewood for 2005 but struggled so much that he was back there for the 2006 season. The theory was that he would have gained enough experience at that level to put up strong numbers in 2006, but that simply didn't happen. Delacruz barely improved on his 5.10 ERA from 2005 in his second full season at Lakewood.

While Delacruz has moved slowly, you have to remember that he's young and there isn't quite a need to rush him. Having said that, 2006 will be an important season for the 21 year old right-hander. The Phillies have been a lot more apt to promote players based on their readiness to move along rather than looking just at their stats from a previous season. Since he's been at Lakewood for two seasons, it's possible that Delacruz will move to Clearwater rather than start a third season with the BlueClaws.

'02 DSL Phillies 4 2 2.48 0 11 10 58.0 43 20 16 3 16 40
'02 GCL Phillies 1 0 1.17 0 2 1 7.2 4 1 1 0 2 5
'03 DSL Phillies 5 3 3.55 2 18 8 71.0 72 32 28 2 14 72
'04 GCL Phillies 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
'06 Lakewood 5 2 4.90 0 22 11 90.0 98 60 49 9 35 58
TOTALS 27 22 4.01 2 92 68 448.2 467 247 200 30 128 334

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

Pitching: It's looking more and more like Delacruz' future would be in the bullpen. While he threw five complete games in 2005, he didn't show the ability to pitch deep into games this past season with Lakewood. Even in 2005 he either pitched deep into games or seemed to wear down quickly and make early exits. He has a good fastball and moves it around the strike zone, but his secondary pitches haven't developed as well as the Phillies had hoped. He generally has pretty good control, but wasn't as sharp this past season as he's been in the past. Delacruz lives on location and mixing pitches and needs sharp control to be successful.

Projection: Delacruz will turn just 22 shortly after the season opens so he's got time to develop and it's important to remember that he is so young. If Delacruz is going to emerge as a bigger prospect than he is now, then he's going to have to start showing his potential. A combined ERA of 5.03 in two seasons in Low-A ball, Delacruz will have to take a step forward in 2007. He's got talent, but right now, he's not showing enough to cause anybody to think that he's going to be a top-of-the-rotation type starter or a quality back-of-the-bullpen reliever. It's looking more like he would be a journeyman type pitcher.

ETA: With age on his side, Delacruz has time to work out the kinks. He won't turn 25 until May of 2010 and odds are that he won't be quite ready for the majors by that time. He took a step back last season and it's looking like a long ride for Delacruz to reach the majors.

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