As was reported earlier, Tony Cruz
was having a decent season until an unfortunate hand injury that ended his
season in the Florida State League. He showed a decent batting average with
decent power and extra base hits for a catcher. He didn't walk a lot but he
still drew a walk every four games.
From what I observed Cruz seems
completely healthy and healed from the hand injury as it does not seem to bother
him in the field or at bat. He has a typical body type for a catcher, stocky
with a large frame and strong legs. He may be somewhat heavier that his
statistics report but none of it impedes his mobility or play.
From what I saw, Cruz possesses
decent mobility for a catcher. I wouldn't characterize him as slow but more of
an average runner with a decent first step. He made a few plays in the field
showed off his reflexes. Cruz still seems to be adjusting to first base. I am
not sure how much he played the position before but he still looked good despite
a gaffe or two.
Cruz seemed to work the count well
but jumped on pitches that he thought he could drive. He seems to be willing to
take a pitch but is oriented on attacking pitches he thinks are in the zone. He
appears to be able to hit balls high in the zone with
In his first at bat, he took
pitches until he got a high fastball that he whacked for a hard hit single up
the middle. Cruz moved up on an intended hit and run, as the batter checked his
swing but missed and the ball got past the catcher momentarily. Cruz was already
running and moved up to second on the play.
In his second at bat in the third
inning, Cruz swung at a high first-pitch fastball and just hit the underside of
the ball that spun up for a high pop-up. In the third at bat, batting with a man
on first, Cruz took a few pitches before striking a waist high outside fastball
to the right-field gap. Hans La Orange has a big outfield so it was in no danger
of being caught. It was struck with authority and hit the wall on one bounce,
scoring the runner from first. Cruz seems to have more loft to his swing than
does teammate Jim Rapoport, which probably explains his better power numbers.
For this at-bat, the pitcher had
been changed to Taylor instead of Lee who threw more in the 85-87 MPH
throws a fastball with decent sink in the low 90s. Taylor made the mistake of
throwing too many fastballs which is why Cruz as well as his Sharks teammates
hit him hard.
In the 6th inning, Cruz faced
Chris Hicks, who was struggling early with his control. It is also possible he
was trying to be careful when pitching to the hot-hitting Cruz. Cruz watched two
balls low near the dirt and one ball high before taking an inside fastball for
his only walk of the evening. Cruz didn't bite on any of them. Cruz moved from
first to third as the next batter singled. He drew a throw to third which
allowed the batter to move up to second on the play. Cruz showed good hustle. He
scored on a wild pitch that bounced off the plate and over the catcher's
Cruz's final at bat was in the
8th. He took three pitches outside before hitting an 88 mph fastball
from Jun Ho Ha. The ball came spinning funny of his bat as he just got a piece
of it with a strong swing. Cruz blooped a high fly ball into the middle of right
field where it landed just fair on the line and took a tremendous hop that sent
it out of the stadium on the right side along foul territory. The hop was crazy
and it was one of the weirdest things I've seen on a grass field. It was a
ground rule double and
Tony took his base.
Since the Sharks were leading by a
large margin, it looked like they decided to take some risks. Tony saw the
catcher lose the ball near his feet and tried to take advantage by going to
third but was gunned down trying to advance. He probably shouldn't have gone
since the ball was still close to the catcher, but I think the Shark's staff
seemed okay with taking a few risks. It was a solid night for Tony
Defensively, Cruz was playing
first where he is still adjusting, although he looked fully capable there. He
reacted well and made the routine plays. He made an excellent grab just above
his shoulder going to his left with a ball that was smoked toward right field.
He then stepped on first to complete an unassisted double play.
Cruz also made a nice play as he
had to charge a hard-hit chopper. He was caught slightly sideways but still made
the play, catching it on the bounce before the ball could get away from him.
The only difficulty he had was on
a hard-hit grounder to the first base side. Tony slid on his knees, blocked the
ball and attempted to glove it, but he missed it on the slide and although he
kept it in front of him, the runners advanced. No runs were scored,
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