RHP-Eulogio De La Cruz was released by the San Diego Padres this afternoon. This particular release, for fans of most teams, wouldn’t amount to so much as a blip on the radar. For the Royals, even blips can be worth investigating.
Most of the time I quickly dismiss the released player since their acquisition would not provide an upgrade to the talent level of the organization. However, every now and then a player like De La Cruz comes along that merits an extended look and some serious consideration.
Eulogio was signed by the Detroit Tigers out of the Dominican Republic on September 6th, 2001. On December 4th, 2007 he was one of the six players the Tigers sent to the Florida Marlins to acquire Dontrelle Willis and Miguel Cabrera. On March 25th, 2009, he was traded by the Marlins to the Padres for a PTBNL.
He has a total of 19.0 IP in the majors including 6.2 in 2007 with Detroit, 9.0 in 2008 with Florida, and 3.1 with the Padres in 2009. During that time he has been rather unimpressive with an 11.84 ERA and 2.526 WHIP. He has allowed 27 H and 21 BB to go along with only 11 SO.
In the minors De La Cruz has a 3.73 ERA, 1.367 WHIP, 583 H, 302 BB, and 574 SO in 647.1 IP spread out over 8 seasons. In 2009, outside of his 3.1 IP for the Padres, he spent the season pitching for the Portland Beavers in AAA. Eulogio finished the year with a 3.12 ERA, 1.385 WHIP, 52 H, 44 BB, and 59 SO in 69.1 IP. He appeared in 48 games with 4 of those coming as a starter. In 2008 all 25 of his appearances for the Marlins AAA team came as a member of the starting rotation. He finished that season with a 4.34 ERA, 1.351 WHIP, 139 H, 60 BB, and 118 SO in 147.1 IP.
He has consistently allowed less than a hit per inning throughout his minor league stops, which bodes well for his future if he can cut down on his walk rate. Another positive sign is that he rarely gives up the long ball. Thanks to the guidance of MLB Trade Rumors, we know that Paul DePodesta had this to say about De La Cruz when the Padres acquired him back in March:
Described by our scouts as a “little bull with a big arm” De La Cruz has supposedly thrown 100 mph. Most of the time, however, he sits between 93-97 mph with his fastball, which he complements with both a curveball and a changeup. He has just 16 innings at the big league level (and they weren’t very pretty), but we believe he’s big league ready. And now for my standard ending… we’re excited to have him.
He throws hard, has three pitches, turns just 26 in March, and would require little investment on the part of the team to add him to the organization. While he hasn’t found success in very limited opportunities at the major league level, a minor league deal could net the Royals a young and still promising arm.
Speaking of young and still promising, the Rule 5 draft finally arrives tomorrow with a 9 am EST start. As of right now, the Royals still have a full 40-Man roster so they will need to make a move if they intend to make a selection in the major league portion of the draft. Jonathan Mayo posted an excellent Rule 5 article on MLB.com this evening that is worth a look if you have the time. Baseball America’s John Manuel also posted a Rule 5 update today.