Rafael Cruz (minors03)
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 2", Weight 255 lb.
- High School Milagro Hernandez High School
Cruz debuted in 1996 as a catcher for the DSL Rangers, going 7 for 31 with four walks and a double. With the same club in '97, he hit .250/~.345/.339. He came to the USA in 1998 and hit .233/.331/.264 as the primary backstop for the GCL Rangers. He split 1999 between the Pulaski Rangers (.222/.288/.278) and Savannah Sand Gnats (just 4 for 62, double, 7 walks, 30 strikeouts). That was it for his career in the Texas Rangers organization.
Cruz resurfaced as a pitcher with the Chunichi Dragons in 2007 and went 1-3 with a 2.66 ERA in 17 games, holding opponents to a .191 average. In the 2007 Japan Series, he allowed a hit and walk while retiring no one in a game two win. Chunichi took their first Japan Series title in over 50 years.
Rafael injured his elbow in spring training in 2008 and missed the season. He signed with the Atlanta Braves before the 2009 season, as did former Chunichi teammate Kenshin Kawakami. Cruz split 2009 between the Mississippi Braves (0-2, 12 Sv, 4.76) and Gwinnett Braves (1-1, Sv, 1 UER in 8 2/3 IP).