Jose De La Cruz Makes A Good First Impression In FCL
Working as a hitting coach for one of the Tigers’ two Rookie-level Florida Complex League affiliates, Rafael Gil gets a firsthand look at the earliest stages of player development.
Gil received his first look at 19-year-old Dominican outfielder Jose de la Cruz about two years ago, and it was an impression that stuck with him.
“I knew he was a very talented player,” Gil said. “He looked very comfortable. A very, very talented player.”
De la Cruz signed with Detroit in July 2018 for $1.8 million. The 6-foot, 215-pound righthanded hitter remains longer on projection than production, but that's not unusual for a teenager.
Despite the challenges that the 2020 shutdown created, de la Cruz hasn’t lost his forward motion.
“He played one year in the Dominican (Summer League) and then he came to (the U.S.) last year,” Gil said. “But with Covid and stuff, nobody played. This year is the first year I've really started working with him and now I know him better.”
De la Cruz scuffled at Low-A Lakeland to open the season. He hit just .127 and was demoted to the FCL on June 28 when the league opened. He quickly caught up to speed and had hit .338/.423/.515 through 18 games.
“I've seen more discipline in the way he plays,” Gil said. “He's growing in that area a lot. The more he plays, the more advanced he’ll get . . . He has got all the tools and he's going to be a better player year by year.”
Complementing his developing frame, de la Cruz has proven power to all corners and the defensive feel to manage the outfield increasingly well. He has spent most of his time in right field this season.
"I think he has a chance to be a five-tool player,” Gil added. “He can run, he can throw and he has power. He can do all that. I'd say the full package.”
— Righthander Beau Brieske, a 27th-round pick in 2019 out of Colorado State-Pueblo, posted 10.9 strikeouts per nine innings and a 1.02 WHIP over 62.2 innings, earning him a promotion from High-A West Michigan to Double-A Erie in late July.
— Slow and steady has seemingly become the mantra for third baseman Gage Workman. Since his promotion to High-A West Michigan, the 21-year-old Arizona State product had hit in 18 of his first 21 games, including seven extra-base hits and 13 RBIs.