Earlier this evening, Joey Rosario, the agent for Eulogio "Frankie" De La Cruz, got in touch with me and informed me that his client has signed a minor league deal with the Milwaukee Brewers for the 2013 season.
The 28-year-old De La Cruz did not receive a major league invite to spring training, but was informed that he would still be working in the major league portion of camp a fair amount with the World Baseball Classic taking place this spring.
De La Cruz, a right handed pitcher, spent the 2011 season with the Brewers, working mostly in Triple-A Nashville. He worked primarily as a starter, with 23 starts in 25 minor league appearances that year. He posted a 3.88 ERA with an 8.28 K/9 and 4.16 BB/9. He was called up by the Brewers in mid-August of that season when Chris Narveson cut his pitching hand and was placed on the disabled list.
De La Cruz made 11 relief appearances for the Brewers, with a 2.77 ERA and 3.26 FIP. However, in March he was claimed off of Waivers by the Chicago Cubs, where he spent much of 2012. For Chicago's Triple-A affiliate, he saw action in 27 games (14 starts) and posted a 3.80 ERA. He posted just a 5.42 K/9 and a 5.51 BB/9.
Rosario said that his client was unhappy during his time with Chicago and they negotiated De La Cruz's release in August 2012. De La Cruz then signed with a team in Taiwan. In his tenure there, Rosario said that De La Cruz gave up just one walk and no earned runs through his first 24 games. Currently, De La Cruz his pitching in the Dominican Republic with the Estrellas Orientales.
Rosario said that De La Cruz is very excited to be back with Milwaukee and to be back "with his Brewer family". He felt that the Brewers gave him a real opportunity to prove himself in 2011 and hopes to get the opportunity to help the team again this upcoming season.
It's certainly easy to see why De La Cruz feels he has a good opportunity to find meaningful playing time with the Brewers. The team's bullpen was one of the worst in the MLB in 2012 and has several holes following the departures of Jose Veras, Francisco Rodriguez, and Kameron Loe.
De La Cruz was a former top-10 prospect with both the Tigers and the Marlins, going from Detroit to Florida in the blockbuster Miguel Cabrera/Dontrelle Willis trade. De La Cruz has been able to touch 100 MPH with his fastball in the past and has nasty stuff if he can control it. He will also give the Brewers some flexibility as he can potentially work as both a starter or a reliever, though the Brewers likely see him as a bullpen arm. For more on De La Cruz, you can read my post from 2011 when the Brewers called him up to the major league squad.
De La Cruz may not receive an opportunity to be on the major league roster on opening day, but he is another low-risk signing in the effort to revamp the bullpen. He has helped the team in the past, and both parties appear to like one another. It's not difficult to imagine him being in the Brewers bullpen at some point in the 2013 season.