Tigers Prospect Profile #8: Eulogio DelaCruz

Many people thought that Eulogio de la Cruz was being groomed to be a potential future closer. If that's the case, he'll now be getting there as a Marlin. Does "Frankie" have the stuff to become a future shutdown closer?

Eulogio de la Cruz
Position: Right-handed Pitcher
Height: 5-11
Weight: 180
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 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 AA in 2006 proved difficult at first, but 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 AAA down the stretch, and helped the Toledo Mudhens toward the International League title.

Starting the 2007 season back in Erie, Frankie got off to a rocky start in April before a dynamite month of May prompted the organization to promote him to AAA-Toledo. While with Toledo, de la Cruz managed a 3.52 ERA in 22 appearances (21 in relief), while notching a 3-0 record. Eulogio earned a brief promotion to Detroit where he struggled mightily in outings against Minnesota and Texas, but did not allow a run over his other four outings spanning 4-2/3 innings of work.

Scouting Report
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, and touching 95 regularly in his relief outings. 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. He has toyed with sinking his fastball but has not developed any consistency with the downward moving pitch.

His curveball has true plus potential, but he must gain consistency both in terms of break and control, to reach that point. When it's on, he is able to generate devastating downward bite, late in the zone – break that sometimes has the pitch described as a true '12-6 breaker.' If he can begin to routinely control his curve, 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 above-average pitch. His arm speed is good with the pitch, and he is able to keep it at the knees with regularity.

Eulogio must improve his conditioning if he is to remain in the rotation, and all three pitches will need to be at their best. His most likely role still lies in the bullpen, where he could develop into a dominating set-up man. DLC has made strides in holding runners and in fielding his position, and he is now an adequate defender.

Performance

Level

Team

W-L

ERA

G

GS

SV

SO

BB

IP

AVG

AA

Erie

4-5

3.41

11

11

0

57

19

66.0

.224

AAA

Toledo

3-0

3.52

22

1

0

25

18

38.1

.289

ML

Detroit

0-0

6.75

6

0

0

5

4

6.2

.248


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

The Future
De la Cruz has proven he can handle the minor league's highest levels, and he is ready for the full-time challenge of the Major Leagues. With the Marlins in the midst of yet another youth movement, ‘Frankie' should be able to make a very strong push to open the season with the big league club.

Long term, I don't believe he has closer potential, but he can still be a valuable bullpen arm working the sixth, seventh, or eighth innings. He'll need to gain the consistency discussed in his scouting report to remain effective for long stretches, and that could still come with added experience and coaching.

Mark Anderson is TigsTown's Managing Editor and feature Minor League writer. He can be reached at Mark@TigsTown.com.


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