Phillies Prospect #50: Andrew Cruse

Andrew Cruse found out that to succeed at higher levels, you have to have your best stuff. When he made mistakes, hitters took advantage and in 2007, he made a few too many mistakes.

Acquired: Drafted by the Phillies in the 9th round of the 2006 Draft.

B: T: R  /  Height: 6' 1"  /  Weight: 200 lbs.

Birth Date: May 31, 1984

2007 Team(s): Lakewood (28 g), Clearwater (6 g)

Games/Games Started in 2007: 34 G / 13 GS

School: University of South Carolina

As the 2006 Draft approached, many scouts found themselves nervous about giving too glowing of a recommendation on Andrew Cruse. After all, not only did he finish the college season on shaky terms, he had a history of arm problems that completely derailed his freshman season and detoured his sophomore season at the University of South Carolina. There were some bright spots to point to, such as a stunning outing against Clemson in his junior season, but the bright spots were eclipsed by the overall concerns. Had he pitched stronger down the stretch, Cruse could have found himself going somewhere between rounds three and five. As it was though, he slipped to the 9th round before the Phillies grabbed him, figuring that he wouldn't head back to South Carolina because he was already 22 years old and probably didn't want to spend another season in college. They were right and he signed with the Phillies and put up nice numbers at Batavia in 2006. Again though, there were some concerns. While his ERA was good, some of the peripherals were a bit worrisome.

In all honesty, some of those peripheral numbers caught up with Cruse in 2007 as he moved to higher levels in the system. That's what accounts for his drop from 32 on last year's rankings to 50 on the 2008 rankings.

Repertoire: Cruse has been able to put a little more velocity on his fastball and has it generally in the 90 mph range, with good, late movement that keeps hitters off stride when he's throwing it well. He primarily keeps the pitch down in the zone and has good control of his fastball. His secondary pitches - slider and change-up - are about average and he relies primarily on his fastball, which makes him better suited to pitch in relief.

Pitching Style: The only way that Cruse stays alive is to keep his pitches down in the zone, which he does pretty well. He found out that at higher levels, his mistakes become very long fly balls and he'll quickly get himself into trouble pitching anywhere near to up in the zone. After getting 1.4 ground balls for every fly ball at Batavia in 2006, that number sank to .91:1 at Lakewood and 1:1 at Clearwater in 2007, primarily because his pitches were exposed at the higher levels. Part of the problem is that the Phillies had him shuttling back and forth between the bullpen and the starting rotation and it was difficult for him to settle in. Ironically though, he had a much lower ERA as a starter (3.92) than his 5.55 ERA as a reliever.

Projection: The Phillies still aren't sure what they've got in Andy Cruse. He pitched as a reliever in college and some believe that's his best role, considering that he was a ground ball pitcher and doesn't have a great compliment of pitches to rely on. His numbers in the pros have been better as a starter though, leaving the Phillies to ponder exactly what to do with him down the road. Odds are that they'll put him into a starter's role in 2008 and let him develop into that role and it figures that he may start back at Lakewood, with Clearwater being an option if he has a nice camp this spring.

Andrew Cruse's career stats

2006 Batavia 4 4 2.56 0 13 13 66.2 60 29 19 2 19 48 1.18 .244
2007 Lakewood 4 7 4.37 4 28 9 82.1 87 46 40 9 20 68 1.30 .270
2007 Clearwater 4 2 4.64 0 6 4 33.0 32 21 17 3 13 22 1.36 .258
TOTALS 12 13 3.76 4 47 26 182.0 179 96 76 14 52 138 1.27 .259

Philly Baseball Insider Top Stories