A look back at: Jose Enrique Cruz

revs cam season opener

Allow me to share an anecdote from the 2008 season that explains Jose Enrique Cruz’s personality:

After a game in July or August — it’s easy to lose track in the Atlantic League, for those of you scoring at home — Cruz turned from his locker and looked across the clubhouse to find outfielder Kennard Jones with a mountain of lettuce hanging from his mouth.

melmanThen J.E. Cruz let out an unforgettable claim — accusing Jones of resembling the giraffe from the movie Madagascar. I’ve supplied a photo of Melman (right) for visual effect.

And it’s this short story that shines a light on Cruz’s cheerful nature and the camaraderie that he brought to the Revs in ’08. At times, he was strictly a utility player. Later, he was a reliable starter. But no matter his role on the field, Cruz always brought the same sunny demeanor to the ballpark — undoubtedly a product of having a father (Jose Sr.) and brother (Jose Jr.) who both enjoyed careers in the major leagues.

So what exactly was J.E.’s impact on the Revs? Well, the 25-year-old exceeded expecatations in his first season in the Atlantic League after only having Class A experience coming in. He hit .285 in 109 games with 64 runs and 41 RBIs. He also collected 106 hits and was 14 for 15 in stolen base attempts — an amazing success rate on a team that was surprisingly poor on the base paths.

Cruz had his problems on defense (20 errors) and his defensive shortcomings were magnified on one dubious play in Game 1 of the Freedom Division Championship Series. Somerset’s Gera Alvarez was taking off for second on a ground ball to Cruz and Alvarez shielded Cruz as the ball went right by him and into the outfield. The error led to the Patriots’ go-ahead run and changed the complexion of a best-of-three series that York lost 2-0.

But in all fairness, that one error should not stain an entire body of work. And no one was willing to sacrifice his body on dives up the middle more than Cruz, who always made the effort in a league in which defense is often an afterthought.

So one would think from Cruz’s solid season that he would have some interest from affiliated organizations this winter. He’s probably not a major league talent, but considering his age and his connections from his father — who still coaches for the Astros — and brother, a spring training shot would not come as a surprise.

That would also allow Cruz to show that some freak injuries (a broken wrist, broken nose) marred his season in A-ball in ’06. And with that said, I’ll leave you with one more interesting fact about J.E.:

His middle name is Elvis.

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One Response

  1. Thanks for the updates to the blog, Jeff.

    I wish we had a little bit more hot stove action in the Atlantic League that didn’t involve discussions about teams folding. I look forward to those glorious two first weeks of April when the opening day roster will take shape.

    Like a lot of the Revs this year, Cruz started pretty slow. And, like a lot of the Revs, he had a nice second half.

    It seems like decent middle infielders are hard to find in the Atlantic League, so I wouldn’t mind seeing Cruz return in some role.

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