Detroit’s preference for college performers continues to dominate this draft class. Take one look at Cruz’s numbers and you will see a player who dominated the opposing pitchers in his three years at Rice. He was a career .292/.393/.480 hitter as a college ballplayer and was a key part of the offensive core at Rice from his freshman year onward. Like all three of the Tigers’ preceding picks in this draft, Cruz was off to a torrid start in 2020, hitting well over .300 and drawing a ton of walks when the season was cut short.
If you are a fan of MLB bloodlines, you’re in luck. Cruz’s family has produced an astounding number of major leaguers. That includes his father, Jose Cruz Jr., who spent over a decade in the league.
He's also the grand-nephew of Hector Cruz and Tommy Cruz, which would add another 11 seasons and 631 games. https://t.co/EOG26VPgkn— Evan Woodbery (@evanwoodbery) June 11, 2020
As a defender, Cruz has a good chance to stay up the middle, but it’s likely not as a shortstop. He is an average runner, but his arm is a better fit a second base, where he played as a freshman. The Tigers drafted him as a shortstop, though, and he will get a chance to prove himself at the position as a pro. However, with the likely event that he slides to the right of the bag, there will be a little more pressure for him to perform at the plate than if he were able to stay at short.
Because of his probable move to a less defensively valuable position, major publications have Cruz ranked below where the Tigers drafted him. The team has been unafraid to target players of a similar mold before they are expected to be drafted in recent years — 2018 third round pick Kody Clemens is a recent example — so it’s not much of a surprise that the Tigers took a chance on Cruz here.
Fortunately, Cruz has the tools to succeed as a hitter. Don’t let his elevated strikeout rate fool you, he has a patient approach at the plate. Prospects Live points to his barrel not staying in the zone for long enough as the cause of his whiff rate. When he gets ahold of one, he does hit for power. It’s a starter kit for an offensive style similar to what we saw Christin Stewart do in the minor leagues.
The team’s next pick comes in at 102nd overall.