Today In Brewer History: Happy Birthday, Enrique Cruz

The one-time Rule 5 pick turns 31 today.

Over the next few weeks we'll probably spend a fair amount of time discussing possibilities for the Rule 5 draft, a December 6 event allowing teams to basically get a free spring training look at players who aren't on their current team's major league roster.

It's worth pointing out, though, that most Rule 5 picks don't work out. Take for example infielder Enrique Cruz, who on this day in 1981 was born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. He had just turned 21 and had never played above High-A when the Brewers made him the first overall pick in the 2002 Rule 5 draft.

Players selected in this draft have to remain on their new team's roster for one full season or be offered back to their former team. The Brewers kept Cruz on their roster for the full 2003 season, but he appeared in just 60 games and hit .085/.145/.099 over 76 plate appearances. The Brewers sent Cruz back to the minors in 2004 but he never reached his lofty potential, appearing in just one more major league game.

Cruz is still playing professional baseball, having split 2012 between three teams in the independent American Association.

Some players selected later in that same draft did end up having pretty good major league careers: Hector Luna, Shane Victorino and Ronny Paulino were all later picks.

Thanks to the B-Ref Play Index for reminding me that Cruz turns 31 today. With help from Brewerfan.net, we'd also like to wish a happy birthday to AZL Brewer Alex Lavandero. He turns 19.

Today is also the fifth anniversary of the Brewers signing Jason Kendall as a free agent in 2007. We covered that event in this space last year.

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