Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Eulogio de la Garza Rides Near 100-mph Fastball

Expect prospect Eulogio de la Cruz -- a hard-throwing righty who has struck out nearly a batter an inning to go 7-2 with a 2.34 ERA in his last 10 starts at Triple A Albuquerque -- to push starter Ryan Tucker for the No. 5 spot in the Marlins rotation.

At 8-3 with a 3.72 ERA against offensive-minded Pacific Coast League hitters, de la Cruz, 24, appears to have mastered his near 100-mph fastball as he allowed only one run in his last six innings, striking out nine for a microscopic 1.06 ERA in 18 frames. Had the Marlins known his most recent hot streak was coming, de la Cruz might already have been called up ahead of Tucker.

Tucker meanwhile is a promising but weaker link in the Marlins rotation, starting out of the gate slowly with a more than 5.00 ERA in his first two appearances, though he has confused a small sample of lefty hitters with his anomalous delivery that may one day convince the team he could be converted to a closer.

As soon as the Tucker experiment is completed in its present manifestation, look for de la Cruz to make a splash.

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