For more great baseball stories like this one, 'like' us on Facebook -

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Ivan Cruz knew he had to be realistic; Eventually saw four ML seasons, Japan

Ivan Cruz was under no illusions in spring 1999 with the Pirates. The veteran of 11 major league games over a decade as a pro knew it'd be tough to make the team, but he also knew he had a chance, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette wrote.

"I have to be realistic," Cruz told The Post-Gazette then. "But I also understand the Pirates have a need for left-handed power off the bench."

Cruz ultimately did make it to Pittsburgh that year, though briefly. By the time he was done, he saw the bigs - briefly - in two more campaigns, marking a big league career that totaled 41 contests.

Cruz' career began in 1989, taken by the Tigers in the 28th round of the draft out of Jacksonville University in Florida. Cruz' half brother Julio Cruz saw the majors over 10 seasons.

Cruz started with the Tigers at short-season Niagara Falls. He hit .274 over 64 games. He then made high-A Lakeland in 1990,  then AA London in 1991. He also saw eight games at AAA Toledo that year.

He returned to London for all of 1992, then moved to Toledo for all of 1993 and 1994. He didn't see Detroit. He stayed with the Tigers through 1995, when he signed with the Yankees. 

He played 1996 at AAA Columbus. In June 1997, still at Columbus, he spoke with The New York Daily News about his prospects with the Yankees, and maybe elsewhere.

"All I wanna do is get there and play," Cruz told The Daily News. "It doesn't matter what uniform it is."

Cruz got there the very next month. He debuted July 18 and got into 11 games. He went 5 for 20 and had three RBI.

"It is extremely important at this time of my career to get an opportunity," Cruz told The Hartford Courant after his callup. "I need to show people I can play."

Cruz spent an abbreviated 1998 back in the minors and then signed with the Pirates for 1999. He went 4 for 10 over five appearances in Pittsburgh that year and 1 for 11 in eight games the next.

He spent 2001 in Japan, with Hanshin. He hit .234 in 70 games. He then returned stateside for 2002, with the Cardinals.

In September 2003, he contributed to the Cardinals' stretch run with a 13th-inning game-winning single.

''It's very exciting,'' Cruz told The Associated Press afterward. ''I still feel like a 15-year-old kid playing his first American Legion ball.''

Cruz got into 17 games in all for the Cardinals that year and went 5 for 14. He then finished out his career in 2003 back in Japan, with Chunichi as he hit .222 in 71 games there.

Cruz has since turned coach and manager. He served as manager with the rookie Arizona Padres in 2010, then hitting coach. He's most recently credited as hitting coach at AA Mississippi in 2017.

1990 Minor League Tally 
Players/Coaches Featured:3,739
Made the Majors:1,267-33.9%-X
Never Made Majors:2,472-66.1%
5+ Seasons in the Majors:523
10+ Seasons in the Minors:310

No comments:

Post a Comment