De La Cruz Breaking Out For Red Sox





BOSTON—When the Red Sox signed outfielder Keury De La Cruz out of the Dominican Republic in early 2009, it barely created a ripple. He had been passed over as a 16-year-old, but the Red Sox saw him several times at 17 and found his combination of defensive tools and an aggressive approach intriguing.

Despite a 5-foot-11 frame and a lack of strength at the time, the Sox and former international scouting director Craig Shipley were impressed by the natural loft in his swing.

"(Shipley) said, 'You can project power on this guy,' " current Sox international scouting director Eddie Romero said. "He was right."

De La Cruz hit the ground running, being named the organization's top player in the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League in 2009. The next year, he led the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League in total bases.

But in 2011, at 19, De La Cruz's performance took a hit while he was playing for short-season Lowell. He hit .263/.292/.390, and while he showed some pop, he did so at the expense of a solid approach.

"He didn't look at it as a bad season," Romero said. "He said, 'I didn't hit what I wanted to and didn't hit as many homers as I wanted to, but I learned a lot.' He went in with his old approach and realized it wasn't working and that he needed to work on it in the offseason."

Farm director Ben Crockett was immediately impressed this spring when he saw De La Cruz—a dead-pull hitter in the past—looking to drive balls to the opposite field in batting practice. In his first 34 games, De La Cruz, 20, reached a new career high with seven homers while hitting .326/.372/.572 for low Class A Greenville. He is showing power and good defensive potential as a corner outfielder with an approach to the game that is both fearless and aggressive.

"He's managed to make several adjustments to get comfortable where he is," Romero said. "He's worked his way into the conversation with his work in the cage."

SOX YARNS

• Third baseman Will Middlebrooks became the second player since 1900 to collect an extra-base hit in each of his first five games. The other was Enos Slaughter in 1938.

• Miguel Pena (six perfect innings), Hunter Cervenka and Tyler Lockwood combined on the first nine-inning no-hitter in Greenville Drive history on May 8.