No. 14: Red Sox starting pitching prospect Elmer Rodriguez-Cruz
Elmer Rodriguez-Cruz came into 2023 as one of the most intriguing pitching prospects in the Boston Red Sox system. Right up there with Luis Perales as someone with exciting potential who had barely any exposure to work with.
Perales took off this year and proved himself to be a top prospect in the system.
Rodriguez-Cruz didn't quite get there this year. It wasn't due to his play on the field but that he couldn't stay on it.
The right-handed pitcher made 14 starts this year, all in Single-A. He posted a 2.60 ERA, .219 BAA, and 1.27 BAA in 55 1/3 innings. Rodriguez-Cruz struck out 51 batters compared to 27 walks.
ERC only made two appearances after July 6. They were two different September outings, and both only lasted one inning.
Rodriguez-Cruz has a fastball that tends to sit in the low 90s. He has the potential to add some velocity as he gets older and physically matures. There were games where he showed pinpoint command and others where he looked lost.
His changeup works in the low 80s. The pitch has a decent dip and can get hitters flailing if he's on top of his game. However, sometimes, it sits flat and looks different enough from his fastball that hitters aren't fooled.
ERC's best pitch is a mid-to-high-70s curveball. It has a sweeping hard break, and he seems to have fantastic control of the pitch. He rarely leaves it flat or misses over the plate.
I didn't see enough of his slider to grade it at all.
Hopefully, we'll see Rodriguez-Cruz get a full season in 2024. We saw a stretch where he threw at least five innings in eight of nine appearances. Two of those were six innings long. He'll start next season as a 20-year-old with over 60 innings of experience in Single-A.
Elmer Rodriguez-Cruz is extremely raw, but the potential is legit. 2024 could be an exciting year.