Ben Badler from Baseball America wrapped up his 2013 international signings recap with a look at the top 20 prospects in the two foreign leagues. The lone Pittsburgh Pirates representative was center fielder Michael de la Cruz, who was named our top DSL prospect to watch.
Badler did not rank the prospects in any order, instead listing 20 players alphabetical. For de la Cruz, he praised his plate patience, which helped him lead the league with 58 walks in 62 games. He also gave him plus tools for his defense in center field and his speed. The only weakness Badler mentions, is that he may never have much power, although it’s important to note that de la Cruz won’t turn 18 until this July, so he could still fill out that 6’1″ frame and add power to his game down the road.
That set of tools and strong rookie season in the DSL in 2013, got de la Cruz a promotion to Bradenton for the Fall Instructional League last October and he returned this month for Minor League Spring Training. He will more than likely open the season in the Gulf Coast League in 2014 and based on the recent progress of other strong international players(Dilson Herrera, Harold Ramirez), de la Cruz could be in West Virginia for the 2015 season.
Back in February, Baseball America also named him one of the top ten potential breakout prospects among international players. Summing up all those accolades for the young center field from the Dominican, Michael de la Cruz is someone Pirates fans should definitely keep an eye out this season and in the future.