MICHAEL DE LA CRUZ, CENTERFIELDER
|Born: July 10, 1996
Signed: Int’l Free Agent, 2012, Pittsburgh Pirates
How Acquired: International Free Agent
Country: Dominican Republic
Agent: LA Sports Management
WTM’s PLAYER PROFILE
|De La Cruz was one of the Pirates’ two high-profile Latin American signings in 2012, the other being the unrelated Julio De La Cruz. Michael is a patient hitter who works the count. He’s a line drive hitter who doesn’t have much present power, although that could develop later as he fills out. He has good speed and should be able to stay in center. His arm is average.
De La Cruz had a strong debut, drawing walks and hitting for average. He didn’t show much power, but he didn’t turn 17 until the mid-point of the season and will likely get stronger. The biggest negative was that he struck out a lot, possibly a consequence of getting in a lot of deep counts. He needs to improve on his base stealing efficiency.
De La Cruz had a rough season, struggling to adjust to life in a new country and missing time with a skin ailment and an ankle injury. He struggled to hit throughout, although he continued to show reasonable plate discipline. Oddly, his only extra base hit was a HR. He did show good range and instincts in center.
The Pirates sent De La Cruz back to the GCL. He had a much better, albeit far from outstanding, season, hitting the ball with much more authority. He managed to stay in the lineup most of the season, although he was hampered a little toward the end by hamstring issues. He obviously didn’t do a good job of base stealing, although he did play well defensively in center.
De La Cruz’ slow progress continued, as he moved up only to Bristol, where he was the regular center fielder. He struggled to hit, striking out in nearly a third of his ABs despite showing no power.
The Pirates sent De La Cruz to Morgantown and he played center about half the time for the first month of the season. His hitting declined further; he even had trouble stealing bases. In mid-July the Pirates reassigned him to the GCL and he didn’t play again. (NOTE: MiLB.com attributed an appearance in the Sept. 2 game to Michael De La Cruz when it was actually Julio. Both MiLB and baseball-reference.com have failed to correct the error — the box score even shows Michael as having played first, where he’s never played before. Michael in fact didn’t play at all after July 18. I’ve corrected both players’ stats to include that game in Julio’s.)
The Pirates sent De La Cruz back to Morgantown. He played a lot for about a week, until the college draftees started showing up, and only sparingly after that. Obviously, he didn’t hit much.
It looks like the Pirates only kept De La Cruz in the system because they needed outfielders at Morgantown early in the season. He has one more year before minor league free agency, but it wouldn’t be surprising if they cut him loose.
|2019: Minor League Contract|
|Signing Bonus: $700,000
MiLB Debut: 2013
MLB Debut: N/A
MiLB FA Eligible: 2019
MLB FA Eligible: N/A
Rule 5 Eligible: 2017
Added to 40-Man: N/A
Options Remaining: 3
MLB Service Time: 0.000
|July 10, 2012: Signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates as an international free agent.