Position: Right-handed Pitcher
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 in 2003, 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 the following season. 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).
"Frankie's" first taste of Double-A in 2006 proved difficult at first, but the things smoothed out as adjustments were made. He split time between the bullpen and rotation, and finished his time at Erie with a 3.43 ERA in 105 innings. Eulogio was promoted to Triple-A down the stretch, and helped the Toledo Mud Hens toward the International League title.
Eulogio's fastball has hit triple digits in the past, but those days are gone – at least for now. In an effort to control his powerful fastball, the organization has had him dial it back a couple notches, routinely sitting in the 91-93 range instead. Because he is relatively short, Frankie doesn't generate much downward plane on his fastball, leaving it to come in very flat and hittable. He has improved his control, but must make strides with his command in order to continue getting outs at the highest level.
His curveball has true plus potential, but he must gain consistency both in terms of break and control, to reach that point. When its on, he is able to generate devastating downward bite, late in the zone. If he can begin to routinely control the breaker, he'll make significant strides in short order. His change-up has regressed slightly in recent seasons, but has the potential to become a third plus pitch. His arm speed is good with the pitch, and he is able to keep it at the knees with regularity.
Performance Level Team W-L ERA G GS SV SO BB IP AVG AA
De la Cruz has not experienced any injuries of concern to date.
Despite his frequent moves to the rotation over the last couple seasons, the consensus is that his future is still in a relief role. His dominating fastball-curve combo could be lethal in any variety of relief roles. With the lack of movement and control with his fastball, he'd likely be hit hard after multiple turns through a batting order.
Eulogio will head to Major League spring training with a slim shot at heading north with the Tigers. He will likely head to Toledo and could work out of either the rotation or bullpen, depending on where the needs of the team are at that time. I expect Frankie to get a shot in Detroit at some point this season, likely long before time for September call-ups. A future combination of power arms like Eulogio, Zumaya, and Rodney, could be deadly for American League opponents.
Mark Anderson covers the Tigers' minor league system and all of minor league baseball for TigsTown.com. He can be reached at Mark@TigsTown.com.