For Game No. 38, we're going to look back at one of just three players to play in exactly 38 career games in Houston. It's not Rick White, journeyman reliever who had two different stints with the team. It's not Ronn Reynolds, the backup catcher who hit the only homer run in the group.
Cheito was drafted third overall after setting the college world on fire at Rice for three seasons. He was drafted by Seattle in 1995 and quickly made it to the pros by May 31, 1997. Two months later, he was traded to the Blue Jays for a pair of reliever is Mike Timlin and Paul Spoljaric. It was the rare trade, where a top prospect (he was No. 12 on BA's list before 1997) gets dealt, not in a challenge trade, but for spare parts.
Of course, the way it turned out, Seattle may have gotten more value out of him than he'd give Toronto. Cruz Jr. hit .250/.331/.462 in six seasons with the Blue Jays. He also was almost traded to the Mets for David Wright. So there's that...
But, back to the topic at hand. Cruz became a free agent after the 2003, 2006 and 2007 seasons and was placed on waivers in 2005. That's four different chances Houston had to sign or select him (though I don't know if the Astros had waiver priority over the Dodgers at that point in 2005). His dad, the first base coach in Houston, lobbied multiple times for the team to sign him to little effect.
Finally, Houston picked him up in 2008 on a minor league deal, but Cruz the Younger ended up breaking camp with the team and playing for the next 38 games. He even started seven times in the outfield, but hit a measly .122/.283/.143 with one double, one RBI, six runs scored, 11 walks and nine strikeouts.
He then got released on June 6 and did not play professionally in the majors or minors again. He now works as an analyst for ESPN, something that's new this season. What are your memories of the younger Cruz? Do any of you remember him better for those Bellaire and Rice teams he was on than his major league tenure?