Prospect Profile: Eulogio de la Cruz

Eulogio de la Cruz doesn't have the stature of the typical fireball reliever, nor does he have the dominant look that many of the great closers have. Instead, de la Cruz just fires away, and if he can continue his 2005 season, will be firing away in Detroit some day.

Eulogio de la Cruz
Position: Right Handed Pitcher Height: 5-11 Weight: 170
Born: 3/12/1984 Bats: Right Throws: Right

Background
The Tigers spotted Eulogio in the Dominican Republic as a teenager, and couldn't pass up the opportunity to sign him at the tender age of 17 late in 2001. After being assigned to the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League in 2002, de la Cruz took it to his young, GCL counterparts, posting a 2.63 ERA over 38 innings while striking out 46 batters. After a late season promotion to Oneonta, Eulogio struggled mightily posting an ERA of over 20 in two outings. The 2003 season proved to be a mirror image of his rookie campaign, including the late season struggles in Oneonta. After working in the Fall Instructional League, the organization challenged de la Cruz with an assignment to full season ball with the West Michigan Whitecaps of the Midwest League in 2004. After taking over the closer's role from Chris Homer mid-way through the season, Eulogio saved 17 games, and finished the season with a 3.83 ERA in 54 outings. De la Cruz's progress in 2004, was enough to warrant a promotion to the Florida State League in 2005. Eulogio nearly doubled his career best innings total while with Lakeland, and also logged career single season bests in ERA (3.39), WHIP (1.07), H/9 (6.21), and BB/9 (3.39).

Scouting Report
Despite his small stature, Eulogio can dial his fastball up to 96 consistently while touching triple digits with some regularity. Having struggled with his control in both Rookie-level seasons, Eulogio has started to harness his powerful arm, although his walk totals and wild pitches remain quite high. The 2004 and 2005 seasons saw significant progress in his ability to find the strike zone, and the Tigers are hoping the temporary move to the rotation in 2005 was a huge boost. His breaking ball and change-up have progressed each year of his professional career, but they are still only intermittently successful. The change-up is dominating when on, but he struggles with the ability to keep it down in the zone. Eulogio has the raw "stuff" to develop into a dominating closer, a role he relishes and has excelled in over the past three seasons. De la Cruz fields his position at an average level, but must improve his situational awareness to make him an effective defender. It is likely that as his change-up progresses, he will induce more and more weak groundballs, making it imperative that he become a top-notch fielder.

Performance

Level

Team

W-L

ERA

G

GS

SV

SO

BB

IP

WHIP

A+

Lakeland

4-3

3.39

40

10

5

97

36

95.2

1.07

AA

Erie

0-1

16.20

1

0

0

0

4

1.2

3.60


Health Record
De la Cruz has not experienced any injuries of concern to date.

The Future
While it is very hard to predict the future success of minor league relievers, de la Cruz appears to be on track to a Major League career. His control and consistency must improve if he is to take the next step as a reliever. Working in a tandem starter system for much of the 2005 season, increasing his overall workload, was very good for him. It provided him more innings to hone his arsenal, and also provided him the opportunity to stretch his arm out and build additional arm strength. A likely promotion to AA in 2006 will be a significant test for Eulogio, and his success will be largely determined by his ability to keep the ball down in the zone. He'll likely split time in the closer's role with Chris Homer once again in 2006. Should the Tigers bullpen implode, don't be surprised if Eulogio gets a peak in the Majors this year, but it is unlikely he gets any significant time there before sometime late in 2007.


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