At 28 years old, Nelson Cruz is not much of a prospect anymore relative to the traditional usage of the term, but he is definitely going to great lengths to rid the Quad-A reputation he has developed over the last few seasons. Cruz’s story has been pretty well documented across the saber-savvy blogs, based on an odd ability to absolutely demolish minor league pitching while posting meager results in major league action. Cruz’s minor league numbers from 2006-08 were just silly:
2006 (AAA): .302/.378/.528 and .398 wOBA in 423 PA
2007(AAA): .352/.428/.698 and .464 wOBA in 188 PA
2008(AAA): .342/.429/.695 and .467 wOBA in 448 PA
Cruz was clearly much too dominant to stay in Triple-A, but his .279 and .288 wOBAs in the majors in 2006 and 2007, respectively, left many questioning whether or not he would ever succeed at the big league level. He went from resembling Albert Pujols with the bat to producing Punto-esque statistics. Last season, Cruz posted a .438 wOBA in 133 PA in the majors, proving that he could in fact produce at the highest level.
This season, even with the solid performance last season, many were still on the bubble with regards to believing in Cruz as a legitimate major league threat. Entering last night’s action, Cruz boasted a .406 wOBA with four dingers in his eight games of action. In a 19-6 rout of the Orioles, Cruz hit his fifth homer, a grand slam off of Radhames Liz. Nine games is still too small of a sample and Cruz could do well to improve his patience at the plate, but five home runs and a .400+ wOBA in the first couple weeks of the season are definitely promising performance components.
The Rangers ranked very high on Dave’s list of franchises moving forward thanks in large part to their dominant offense and extremely solid farm system. If Cruz can cement himself as a power threat in the major leagues contributing even 5/8 of his ridiculous minor league numbers, Rangers fans have to feel even more optimistic about the chances of their team moving forward.