Michael De La Cruz Named A Breakout International Prospect

Baseball America released their top ten list of potential breakouts among international players and the Pittsburgh Pirates Michael de la Cruz made the list. The 17-year-old center fielder was ranked #20 in our 2014 Prospect Guide, the first international player that made our top 50 list before playing in the United States since Luis Heredia.

Baseball America calls him “one of the most exciting players in the Dominican Summer League in 2013″ and they say his skills should transfer over well to the Gulf Coast League this season. They praised his plus speed, plate patience and believe he has the ability to stick in center field.

De la Cruz was signed by the Pirates in July of 2012 for a $700,000 bonus. He hit .292/.436/.367 in his rookie season in 2013, drawing 58 walks in 62 games. He is a potential five tool player, who already has an advanced feel at the plate. He was also named as our top international prospect to watch this past season.

Author: John Dreker

John was born in Kearny, NJ, hometown of the 2B for the Pirates 1909 World Championship team, Dots Miller. In fact they have some of the same relatives in common, so it was only natural for him to become a lifelong Pirates fan. Before joining Pirates Prospects in July 2010, John had written numerous articles on the history of baseball while also releasing his own book and co-authoring another on the history of the game. He writes a weekly article on Pirates history for the site, has already interviewed many of the current minor leaguers with many more on the way and follows the foreign minor league teams very closely for the site. John also provides in person game reports of the West Virginia Power and Altoona Curve.

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  • elgaupo

    Would he be in Bradenton already?

    • John Dreker

      He should be there when the minor league players report, which is Feb 24th.

  • http://www.facebook.com/lee.young.161 leefoo

    John…he was prospect #31 in the Baseball America book.

    I have been getting it for years and use it more now, for other teams’ players since the P2 book blows it away…that, and Perotto does the writeups (I think he plagiarized from every Top Prospect list out there….lol)

    • John Dreker

      I think 31st place is too low, but I can understand not wanting to put him too high. We almost didn’t even rank him because we try not to put players on the list until they reach the States, but he is just too good. The reports I got from people who saw him all year were off the charts

      • http://www.facebook.com/lee.young.161 leefoo

        Comparing his list to yours…..well, it’s like comparing Jon Sanchez to Frankie Liriano.

        :) :)

        • emjayinTN

          It is hard trying to find a realistic comparison at this level in the DSL at so young an age, but his numbers compare favorably to both Gregory Polanco when he came through in 2009, and Alen Hanson in 2010. I guess HR’s are rare in the DSL because he and Polanco did not hit any, and Hanson only hit 2. MDLC was one of the youngest players on the team and only 3 players on the team were born in 1996 – all others were 1990 to 1995, so he was playing with a much older group of players. Same with JDLC who did not have much of an average, but of his 42 hits, 12 were doubles and 4 were HR’s, so I would think he has a lot of power.

  • Big B

    Neal’s ideal defensive alignment of 6 center fielders and 2 catchers is 1 step closer to happening!

    • csnumber23

      You talk like this is a negative. The idea is to get as many studs in the system as possible, regardless of position. We are absolutely loaded with OF, SP and C, but that is a good thing. Trades can always be made, plus some of these OF’s could switch to 1B. It’s possible a catcher could switch to 1B or 3B as well. The system is completely loaded and it’s a great thing!

      • http://www.facebook.com/lee.young.161 leefoo

        csnumbers….agree.

      • Y2JGQ2

        Disagree vehemently- outfielders catchers and pitchers can’t be middle or corner infielders (except worthless first base which is evidently so easy to get that we have zero prospects in the entire organization)so unless you can fix that, you are spouting nonsense

        • NastyNate82

          Disagree with part of your comment. OF’s can certainly move to first base, we’re going to see that this spring with Lamob and possibly down the line with Bell.

      • Y2JGQ2

        trading prospects for prospects (said by tim williams himself) is rarely done. Therefore that will be done seems highly unlikely

        • NastyNate82

          It probably wouldn’t be prospects for prospects but more prospects for a young regular on another team. Say an OF prospect and pitching prospect for a corner infielder on a bad team in a couple of years (say, Nolan Arenado to pick a name out of a hat).

  • http://www.facebook.com/lee.young.161 leefoo

    Now…let’s get that ‘other’ De La Cruz up to speed or snuff or, well, YOU know.

    • John Dreker

      I heard good things about Julio de la Cruz, but he obviously didn’t break out like MDLC. He really had a tough time with left-handed pitching, which is surprising coming from a righty. Julio probably has the better power potential of the two and he plays a position that the Pirates have nothing at. They were very high on him when he signed and he was in the Fall Instructional League, so he should be in the GCL this season too.

  • BuccosFanStuckinMD

    In the long run, I still believe Julio de la Cruz will be the better prospect and player – although they are both very impressive at very young ages.

    • https://profiles.google.com/105668650510920614054 Brian Bernard

      Bucfan,
      You say that based on what personal knowledge?
      I’m just encouraged that the team continues to pluck talented players refilling the cup so to speak.
      I would agree however that I’d love to ask Tim to inquire within the organization if they feel they’ve just followed the talent (outfield) or if there is talent (infield) and they just haven’t found it? Are they making any adjustments to find the next Sano types?