• Tommy Mumau

Getting to know Tigers' draft pick Trei Cruz

Updated: Jul 25, 2020

(Via rice owls.com)

From the time Trei Cruz was born, he knew that he wanted to be a professional baseball player. The switch-hitting shortstop has put in countless hours of work on his way to achieving his dream of continuing his family’s baseball legacy. This dream became a reality last Thursday night, when the Detroit Tigers selected him in the third round of the 2020 MLB draft. 

Surrounded by friends and family, Cruz received a call from the Tigers in which he was told that they were going to select him with the 73rd pick of the draft. The moment Cruz’s dream was realized was one that he certainly will never forget.

“It was really surreal to me; it was a dream come true,” said Cruz. “It was amazing to realize that [I’m one step closer to] my dream job of playing Major League Baseball.”

The Tigers are currently in a rebuilding phase and are looking to do so by developing talent in their minor league system. The club added to this talent in this year’s draft by adding more bats, including first-overall pick Spencer Torkelson. Cruz is another key piece in the Tigers’ plan, and he looks forward to joining the organization as they rebuild the franchise in pursuit of their fifth World Series title. 

“To be able to play for an organization like the Tigers, is really amazing and I'm really blessed to have that opportunity,” said Cruz. “I really think that what they're doing and what they're trying to accomplish in their system in developing players is something amazing and something that I want to be a part of.” 

Cruz is continuing the baseball legacy of his family, as his father Jose Cruz Jr. and his grandfather Jose Cruz Sr., both had successful careers in the major leagues. Cruz says that they have been integral in helping him pursue his dream, and that he is honored to carry on his family name in professional baseball. 

“They work with me every day to accomplish that goal and dream. So it means the world to me that I have a chance to just be able to keep the name going in baseball and I hope to keep it going for a while,” said Cruz. 

They have also been key in preparing the shortstop for his first professional season, during a time where there is uncertainty surrounding baseball in 2020. Cruz has been working out with his father and grandfather nearly every day, ensuring that he is in baseball shape when the sport gets the nod to return. Cruz’s work ethic and desire to improve is what drives him to be the best player that he can be. 

“I'm extremely passionate and I always play hard,” said Cruz. “I want to play every game like it’s my last because you never know when it is...and I'm always going to try to give my team the best chance to win.” 

Cruz considers his greatest strength as a player to be his baseball IQ. He believes that his ability to adjust in-game to his opponents’ tendencies is key to his success on the diamond. He further developed this skill set over his past three years at Rice University.

Prior to attending college, Cruz was selected by the Houston Astros in the 33rd round of the 2017 MLB draft. He ultimately decided to decline the offer, and further his academic and baseball careers at Rice. Cruz feels that the university has helped him develop both as a player and a person.

“Rice has been an amazing place for me and an amazing platform for me,” said Cruz. “Academically it's amazing and to be able to work on getting my degree from a school like Rice is very important to me, because baseball isn't forever. So, to have that backup plan from a school like Rice is huge.”

Cruz further developed his talent on the field during his time at Rice, impressing throughout his three college seasons. The switch-hitter recorded a .296 batting average, along with 16 home runs and 97 RBI during his time with the Owls. Along with his ability to drive the ball, Cruz showed discipline at the plate by walking 93 times in his college career. 

(Via houstonchronicle.com)

These credentials earned the slugger second team All-Conference USA honors in his sophomore season, as well as being a member of the Freshman All-America team and Conference USA All-Freshman team in 2018. 

Cruz has high expectations for himself as he enters his professional baseball career. His goal for his first season is to rise through Detroit’s minor league system as quickly as possible and get as close to the major leagues as he can by the end of his first year. 

Cruz’s goal is to make his MLB debut with the Tigers by the end of the 2022 season. Once he reaches the major leagues, he hopes to win the Rookie of the Year award, and ultimately bring a World Series title back to the city of Detroit. 

It is evident that Cruz has the drive to achieve these goals, and to succeed at the highest level. The shortstop will start his career in the Gulf Coast League, with the Tigers’ rookie-level affiliate. Trei Cruz is eager to begin his baseball career and show the baseball world what he can accomplish.

“I'm extremely blessed to have this opportunity but, at the end of the day this is just the beginning for me. I can't wait to get back to work, and I can't wait to show Detroit what I’ve got.”

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